World wildlife populations halved in 40 years – report

Oct 3, 2014

By Roger Harrabin

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.

The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.

Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Severe impact

Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets – and some critics say the exercise is not statistically valid.


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5 comments on “World wildlife populations halved in 40 years – report

  • The mass extinctions from human activities of habitat destruction and the transport of invasive species and diseases around the globe, is continuing at a pace.

    Many supposed quarantine systems and import controls, are little more than a bad joke which has continued for decades!

    The origin of the Aids pandemic has been traced to the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, scientists say.

    An international team of scientists say a “perfect storm” of population growth, sex and railways allowed HIV to spread.

    A feat of viral archaeology was used to find the pandemic’s origin, the team report in the journal Science.

    They used archived samples of HIV’s genetic code to trace its source, with evidence pointing to 1920s Kinshasa.

    Their report says a roaring sex trade, rapid population growth and unsterilised needles used in health clinics probably spread the virus.

    Meanwhile Belgium-backed railways had one million people flowing through the city each year, taking the virus to neighbouring regions.

    If there is a similar level of skill employed in handling Ebola, this could go some way to reducing the human population explosion!

    What Are the Chances Ebola Will Spread in the United States?

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  • 2
    alaskansee says:

    I was just about to chip in on whether there was another population that had been growing significantly over the 40 year period but you beat me to it!

    Unfortunately most economic systems seem to be based on perpetual growth so I don’t think it just the horny we need to worry about.

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  • All I have to do is look around where I live to see a microcosm of the the global problem. In the last 40 years, this especially scenic island in Puget Sound has seen an explosive influx of humans with their accompanying massive footprint on the land. My old farmhouse surrounded by forest and small dairy farms is now an extensive neighborhood with dozens of new houses on 2.5-acre parcels. The small town nearby has grown from a population of about 3,000 people to over 10,000 in the last few years. Local highways used to be deserted during the winter and traffic increased only slightly in the summer; now it’s bumper-to-bumper all day long, all year ’round. The howls of coyotes are now rarely heard; bears and cougars rarely seen, frogs that used to sing so loudly it was difficult to sleep are now silent. Bees no longer hover around my lavender garden or orchards. The sky always has a muddy yellow haze around the horizon from air pollution, and the clams and oysters are dying off; those that remain are now rarely safe to eat. The salmon that used to swim up the creek in front of my house have disappeared in spite of efforts to save them. the great blue herons and ospreys disappeared with them. Everywhere are boats, cars, planes, houses, sidewalks, roads, freeways, noise, lights, trash, chemicals, sewage, trucks, forest clear-cuts. And, if I look on Google Earth, I see that it’s not just here on my little island. It’s everywhere.

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  • Lovely writing Sue. What you have written about Puget Sound could be expanded to the entire planet. Closed systems have limits. The planet is a closed system. Sue’s once beautiful Puget Sound is a harbinger for the future of the planet.

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  • Thank you! I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and, even after seeing many other scenic parts of the world, consider it to be one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring environments on the planet. It was walking through the woods on my property and seeing the 15- to 17-foot-diameter stumps of the old-growth trees that once grew everywhere that made me wonder what thousands of square miles of these massive, ancient trees must have looked like before Europeans came on the scene with axes and saws. My 114-year-old farmhouse sits on some of these massive stumps which support the timber frame; all of the lumber used to build the house came from only a couple of these huge trees. Now it seems to me like a crime to cut down a living thing that might have been standing before Vikings took to the seas; some were fully mature before Romans came to England. I wonder how many generations of trees have grown here since the last Ice Age; it must not have been many! Now the only place where such trees can be seen still alive is in Olympic National Park, where a few isolated valleys still support spectacular rain forests where the largest trees of their species in the world live. The area’s glacier-fed rivers gave rise to 90+ pound King salmon; only a few fish over 50 pounds have been seen in recent years. I have been lucky enough to see the last vestiges of this magnificent ecosystem; my kids have seen some of it – but I have serious doubts whether any of it will be left for their children. What an incalculable loss.

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