Editorial | Earth’s animals are dying

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Let that sink in: Animal populations have, on average, declined by 69% in 50 years.
Let that sink in: Animal populations have, on average, declined by 69% in 50 years.


As the effects of human-induced climate change – from wildfires and hurricanes to drought and other disasters – spread across the planet, the biodiversity of the Earth is under massive threat.

This week, the World Wildlife Fund released the Living Planet Report, which tracks the Earth’s biodiversity and the effects of the human population on monitored wildlife.

If anyone was in doubt that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction, then read this report. Its findings indicate a catastrophic 69% decline of monitored wildlife on the planet in the past 50 years.

Let that sink in: Animal populations have, on average, declined by 69% in 50 years.

For Latin America, the number is even more devastating. The report shows a 94% drop in average population abundance, while freshwater species have fallen by 83%.

These declines send a clear message: The lights are flashing red.

The report reads: 

Today, we know that there are consequences. Some of them are already here – the loss of lives and economic assets from extreme weather; aggravated poverty and food insecurity from droughts and floods; social unrest and increased migration flows; and zoonotic diseases that bring the whole world to its knees.

As countries head to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), the pursuit of net-zero emission is perhaps never more critical to halt the slide into total climate catastrophe. This means more than just conservation and green energy, it means we need game-changing shifts in how we produce, consume and govern. It requires change to what we finance.

The COP27 conference on biodiversity will bring the need for the deepest system changes into focus for what is arguably our greatest existential relationship – that with nature.

READ: Birds and muthi | Over 100 animals killed in suspected poisoning in Kruger National Park

The world needs to be “nature-positive” and must bring changes to agriculture, fishing, forestry and infrastructure.

It is not enough to merely halt the decline of natural abundance, it needs to be restored to a healthy balance.

As we begin to understand that we rely far more on nature than nature does on us, the time to act is now.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Latest issue
Latest issue
All the news from City Press in PDF form.
Read now
Voting Booth
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula stated the ANC served court papers on Eskom and its former CEO, Andre de Ruyter, after his allegations of the involvement of senior ANC members in corruption at the power utility. Was the ruling party's move warranted?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
20% - 156 votes
80% - 630 votes