AboutZoos, Since 2008


Earth’s envi­ron­ment get­ting worse, not bet­ter says WWF in Liv­ing Planet Report 2012

pub­lished 16 May 2012 | mod­i­fied 16 May 2012

Twenty years on from the Rio Earth sum­mit, the envi­ron­ment of the planet is get­ting worse not bet­ter, accord­ing to a report from WWF.

Swelling pop­u­la­tion, mass migra­tion to cities, increas­ing energy use and soar­ing car­bon diox­ide emis­sions mean human­ity is putting a greater squeeze on the planet’s resources then ever before. Par­tic­u­larly hard hit is the diver­sity of ani­mals and plants, upon which many nat­ural resources such as clean water are based.

The Rio+20 con­fer­ence next month is an oppor­tu­nity for the world to get seri­ous about the need for devel­op­ment to become sus­tain­able. Our report indi­cates that we haven’t yet done that since the last Rio summit
David Nuss­baum, WWF-​UK chief executive »

The lat­est Liv­ing Planet report, pub­lished on Tues­day, esti­mates that global demand for nat­ural resources has dou­bled since 1996 and that it now takes 1.5 years to regen­er­ate the renew­able resources used in one year by humans. By 2030, the report pre­dicts it will take the equiv­a­lent of two plan­ets to meet the cur­rent demand for resources. Most alarm­ing, says the report, is that many of these changes have accel­er­ated in the past decade, despite the plethora of inter­na­tional con­ven­tions signed since the ini­tial Rio Sum­mit in 1992. Climate-​warming car­bon emis­sions have increased 40% in the past 20 years, but two-​thirds of that rise occurred in the past decade. The report, com­piled by WWF, the Zoo­log­i­cal Soci­ety of Lon­don and the Global Foot­print Net­work, com­piles data from around the world on the eco­log­i­cal foot­prints of each coun­try and the sta­tus of resources like water and forests. It also exam­ines changes in pop­u­la­tions of 2,688 ani­mal species, with the lat­est avail­able data com­ing from 2008.

The eighth report of its kind, the new Liv­ing Planet doc­u­ment, comes five weeks before Rio+20, the lat­est United Nations con­fer­ence on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. Nuss­baum said: “We have taken some impor­tant steps for­ward: the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change is an impor­tant step, a way in which the world is seek­ing to come to agree­ment about [cut­ting] green­house gases. The Con­ven­tion on Bio­log­i­cal Diver­sity is an impor­tant way of the world iden­ti­fy­ing steps that can be taken in pro­tect­ing bio­di­ver­sity. But the pace in both cases is rather glacial. And unfor­tu­nately our lifestyles and the con­se­quences of those are hav­ing an impact more quickly than the acts we are tak­ing to pro­tect the planet.”

Wealthy coun­tries have seen some improve­ment, with the Liv­ing Planet bio­di­ver­sity index, ris­ing 7% since 1970, as nature reserves and pro­tec­tions were intro­duced. But the bio­di­ver­sity index has dropped by 60% in devel­op­ing coun­tries, where peo­ple depend more on nature. Demo­graphic shifts have had a sig­nif­i­cant impact. The world’s cities have seen a 45% increase in pop­u­la­tion since 1992, accord­ing to the Global Foot­print Net­work, and urban res­i­dents typ­i­cally have a much larger car­bon foot­print than their rural coun­ter­parts. The aver­age Bei­jinger, says WWF, has a foot­print three times the Chi­nese aver­age, due to fac­tors includ­ing pri­vate car use.

The Liv­ing Planet report shows that the biggest sin­gle drop in the liv­ing planet index is for fresh­wa­ter species in trop­i­cal areas, which have shown a decline of 70% since 1970
David Tick­ner, head of fresh­wa­ter at WWF-​UK »

Water secu­rity is a grow­ing con­cern in many parts of the world as pop­u­la­tion and agri­cul­ture dri­ves demand, plac­ing enor­mous stress on fresh­wa­ter ecosys­tems and fish­ing zones, accord­ing to data from WWF.

A note of hope for the future, said the authors, is that the world could see peak pop­u­la­tion some­time this cen­tury. Though the pop­u­la­tion hit 7 bil­lion in 2011, the UNEP reports the pop­u­la­tion growth rate has fallen from 1.65% to 1.2% since 1992, with women now hav­ing an aver­age of 2.5 children.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at the Guardian via CBD News Head­lines. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: the Guardian, 15.05.2012)

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