Humans, y'all, we haven't done the best job taking care of our planet. When we're not assassinating poor ol' Pedals the walking bear or killing the Great Barrier Reef, we're contributing to climate change, which has made the world hotter than it's been in 115,000 years and could cost trillions to fix. On top of all that, a new report says that we've lost 58 percent of wild animals since 1970, and we're on track to lose 67 percent by 2020.
Titled "Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and resilience in a new era," the report—which doesn't paint a pretty picture—was done by the World Wildlife Fund along with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.
Between 1970 and 2012, "global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 percent," WWF found. Unless we drastically change our food and energy systems to address climate change and its consequences, the report says we're on track for "a two-thirds decline in the half-century from 1970 to 2020." Yikes.
If that's not scary enough, Martin Taylor, a WWF conservation scientist, told CNN: "This is definitely human impact, we're in the sixth mass extinction. There's only been five before this and we're definitely in the sixth."
But wait, it's just animals that are screwed right? Humans are okay? Nope. WWF's director general Marco Lambertini explained to the Guardian: "The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we are part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and the life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse."
The report warns that the significant loss of wildlife "threatens the natural resources that humanity depends upon, increasing the risk of water and food insecurity and competition over natural resources."
According to the International Business Times, Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Center, said of the report, "The conclusion is stark: the planetary stability our species has enjoyed for 11,700 years, that has allowed civilization to flourish, can no longer be relied upon."
The animal populations haven't been helped by human activity, like climate change, pollution, wildlife trade, and habitat loss. Humans have impacted the vast majority of the planet's land area, especially for farming and logging; in fact, according to the Guardian, only 15 percent of the planet is protected for nature.
The animals being lost are diverse, coming from all kinds of environments. For example, the number of elephants has dropped by about 20 percent in a decade, and a third of sharks and rays face extinction because of overfishing. But rivers, lakes, and wetlands have been the hardest hit habitats, suffering an 81 percent decrease in their species population since 1970. Marine life hasn't had it as rough as freshwater species, and only experienced a 36 percent decline. Land populations declined by 38 percent.
But we're not completely screwed just yet. "My hope is that we don’t throw our hands up in despair—there is no time for despair, we have to crack on and act," WWF’s director of science Mike Barrett told the Guardian. "I do remain convinced we can find our sustainable course, but the will has to be there to do it."