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Earth Science

World Wildlife Falls By 58% in 40 years (bbc.com) 180

Global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970, BBC reports citing The Living Planet assessment by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF. The report adds that if the trend continues, the decline would reach two-thirds among vertebrates by 2020. The figures suggest that animals living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are suffering the biggest losses. Human activity, including habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change contributed to the declines. From the report: Dr Mike Barrett. head of science and policy at WWF, said: "It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in these wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on. This analysis looked at 3,700 different species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles - about 6% of the total number of vertebrate species in the world. The team collected data from peer-reviewed studies, government statistics and surveys collated by conservation groups and NGOs. Any species with population data going back to 1970, with two or more time points (to show trends) was included in the study.
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World Wildlife Falls By 58% in 40 years

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  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @10:15AM (#53161073)
    Means more room for humans. We're succeeding as a species. I suspect it wont end well for us though.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @10:46AM (#53161267)

      I'm sure humans are edible too.

    • Means more room for humans. We're succeeding as a species. I suspect it wont end well for us though.

      I have no doubt that certain species are declining, but others are booming, and it's precisely because there's more humans. For instance, there's more deer [koryoswrites.com], black bears [nationalgeographic.com], raccoons [nypost.com], and coyotes [thedailyreporter.com], just to name a few.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        The abundance of one species does not a healthy ecosystem make. I have a friend whose family owns a 1700 acre island off the coast of New England. It used to support an enormous white tail deer population -- and not coincidentally it had a plague of ticks, because everything in nature is food for something else. You would not have wanted to visit there back in the 1970s because the tick problem was insane. Everyone in his family has had Lyme disease, which also feasted on the swollen deer population.


    • Means more room for humans. We're succeeding as a species. I suspect it wont end well for us though.

      I don't see any reason to believe it will end badly, at least not for reasons related to this issue.

      Homo Sapiens has proven to be an extraordinarily adaptable and successful species, a global superpredator, which has inevitably displaced many other species. The Holocene Extinction [wikiwand.com], which has been in progress for thousands of years, is the result. The rate of extinctions accelerated dramatically in the last few centuries, particularly as the human population has exploded.

      However, in the last few decades

      • I think that and similar humanity-caused, humanity-ending disasters are unlikely, but I am an inveterate optimist.

        I misread that as "I am an invertebrate optimist."

  • Study bias? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThomasBHardy ( 827616 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @10:35AM (#53161207)

    I'm not saying there's any intentional bias here, I'm just curious and posing the question. If the data was collected from a any study with multiple data points on population... is there a control factor for whether studies including population data in general are more likely to occur on species that are dwindling? If a species has no population issues to begin with, is it likely to have a study?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm not saying there is a problem with the study, but I will make sure to question it's validity without ever taking the time to look to see if my questions have been taken into consideration. Since it goes against my pre-conceived beliefs I will make sure to phrase it in a way as to suggest they haven't.
      • I'm very sorry that you feel compelled to lash out for not real reason.

        I had a question. I implied nothing, simply asked a question. Often the Slashdotters are better informed on many topics than I am, and usually a few folks dig into any given subject posted and really dive deep. Asking a question that this group might answer seems pretty reasonable for a discussion board.

        Not everything is a conspiracy. Sometimes a question is just a question. Reading the attached article(but not the study) pointed ou

  • Mass Extinction Bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @10:39AM (#53161225)

    I'm more worried about the current ongoing mass extinction than I am about climate change per se. (Yes, I realize that climate change is a major contributor to the mass extinction). Sea level rise is going to be catastrophic, but not an existential problem for human civilization. But our agriculture depends on a lot of non-human species (bees, for example). An agricultural collapse brought on by a combination of climate change and mass extinction would be an existential threat to humanity.

    • Bees are domesticated, though, so I'm not sure they count, but I think your point is still valid. A completely ruined ecosystem would make it much harder for whoever survived the collapse of civilization to rebuild anything like we have now. With 'easy' sources of oil gone it might be impossible.
      • Only honey bees are domesticated (some kinds). Others, such as bumble bees, are also major pollinators, and they're suffering badly.

        • That's true... I had been thinking about agriculture where I was under the impression honeybees were primarily used. Certainly my garden depends on the bumblebees, although I'm less certain about commercial operations.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Extinctions, climate change, habitat loss... they're all just symptoms of the same underlying problem of too many people consuming too much stuff. For our own long-term survival we need to cut back on the consumption and reproduce less*. I know the economy will suffer and some people's standard of living will decrease but we have a pretty stark choice: make some sacrifices now and win long-term, or keep growing to extinction. And being a selfish bastard who values humans above all else I'm going to sugge

  • in the same timespan. It's easy to deplore the numbers, but the actual decision on who exactly has to disappear to make room for a wild-life zoo - and why - is not so easy and can certainly not be avoided by dropping condoms form helicopters.

    On the other hand, man is part of nature - and humans and his house-animals are not even included in the survey. Those should be worth a lot more than your random wild beast (for us, but slashdot [i]is[/i] a human website after all).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not if you are carrying out a study on Wildlife

  • That's all they want everyone to know that its mans fault and if we don't just die and leave the planet, all hope is lost.
    • That's all they want everyone to know that its mans fault and if we don't just die and leave the planet, all hope is lost.

      ... or we could take some time to evaluate whether we're seeing a tragedy of the commons problem caused by actors chasing short-term goals. That's a solvable problem without extreme measures. But yeah, if you really believe that the only proposed solution is to wipe out humanity then I guess I can see where burying your head in the sand and pretending everything is fine seems like a sensible alternative.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> That's a solvable problem without extreme measures.

        Not really. I think people/companies chasing selfish short term goals (i.e. moar $$$$ NOW!!!) at any cost, further enabled by the fact that corruption plays a major part in government, are both so fundamental to the current system that it would require close to a complete societal reboot to fix.
        The fact that the polls are showing Hillary ahead is a very strong indicator that most average Americans don't even think blatant systemic corruption is a s

        • It means nothing of the kind. It means the Republicans managed to choose a frothing madman as their candidate for the highest office in the land. This leaves sane people with no alternative but to hold their noses and vote for the only major-league candidate who isn't an ignorant, moronic bully with what appears to be a genuine mental health problem.

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            Personally I would much rather take even an ignroant moronic bully than a divisively corrupt, evil psychopath like Hillary.

            • Evidently you have proof nobody else has seen that Clinton is as you claim. Trump's failings are a matter of public record.

              And if Clinton is "divisive", that's primarily because Trump's supporters are as fact-averse and divorced from reality as he is. Fortunately, they're a minority and will shortly be swept into the dustbin of history.

              • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

                > Evidently you have proof nobody else has seen that Clinton is as you claim.

                Wow you have to be shitting me.

                • Ah, forgive me. I didn't realize you were one of those conspiracy nutbars. Do you think maybe she's an alien lizard wearing a skin suit?

              • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

                Seen as you have obviously been living in a cave for the last 15 years, just watch this:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Say what you will, but I don't like the way things are going in the broad perspective.

    Yes, we are the dominant species. And yes that is cool.

    But we need to start and act as responsible as we are. Right now we only have one planet and it's probably going to stay that way - any people moving to mars in 300 years probably will go to stay there. Just watching those old films of english colonial lords shooting tigers by the dozen just for the kicks or seeing japanese firms chopping down rainforests in the indone

  • What did they do? Travel to Noah's Ark every year and do a census? If they took studies out of ecology journals obviously they're going to be biased toward animals that are going extinct, not much money in studying species doing just fine. Did they include roaches or pigeons? Seems like they're more of them around then ever? If not, why not? So you're telling me 58% of ALL animals on earth died off over a couple decades and we're still here having barely noticed. Hmmm...that would make a rational person thi
  • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @05:34PM (#53164163)
    IMO, this isn't about climate change, global warming, or some other complex ecological equation with a gazillion variables. Isn't it just that we're simply destroying more and more wild spaces/habitat for our own species' reasons? We've been slashing forests and clearing out new land for new subdivisions, dumping waste elsewhere, for centuries now - usually in the best places on the planet.

    Mix in our propensity for permanently altering various environments with invasive species or new chemicals to support the human race's growing need for food/energy, and you have a very potent force for mass extinction.

    Modern development should change to live more within the natural background it's living within, to cohabitate with other animals.. Hopefully we'll figure that out soon.

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