Biodiversity Falling at Alarming Rate

May 21, 2008 01:10 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Conservation groups say that more than one-quarter of the world’s wildlife has been lost since 1970, a rate “unprecedented since the extinction of the dinosaurs.”

30-Second Summary

The populations of species fell by 25 percent on land, 28 percent in the oceans, and 29 percent in freshwater ecosystems, according to The Living Planet Index, a joint report by the Zoological Society of London, the WWF and the Global Footprint Network.

The report tracked population trends for about 1,500 species and placed blame for the decline on natural habitat destruction, overexploitation of species, climate change, pollution and the spread of invasive species.

Loss of biodiversity will have a direct effect on humans in the future, scientists warn. “Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease and where water is in irregular or short supply,” says James Leape, director general of the WWF UK in a BBC news report.

According to the report, the animals that have been severely affected include African antelopes, swordfish and hammerhead sharks, and the baiji dolphin may have recently become extinct.

Recent news reports have chronicled the decline of several species, including frogs, birds, and salmon. Monkeys are now under threat due to lax hunting laws, said delegates at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity that opened Monday in Bonn, Germany.

Officials at the event will review the goals of the 2002 UN Earth Summit, which included the ambitious goal of slowing the loss of biodiversity by 2010. Delegates at the conference linked the current food crisis to the drop in bee populations, which pollinate food crops.

Headline Links: Wildlife populations in decline

Background: Endangered wildlife

Related Topics: Humans and biodiversity


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