Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Living Planet Report

The WWF has produced its Living Planet Report for 2010, a science-based analysis on the health of our planet and the impact of human activity, and as you might expect, the news is not good. The key finding is: “Humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity to sustain us. That is, we ask for more than what we have.”

One of the markers of our planet’s biodiversity is the Living Planet Index, which tracks populations trends in over 2500 vertebrate species. Between 1970 and 2007, the Living Planet Index declined by 30%. This decline was seen in all biomes: freshwater species (-35%), marine species (-25%), and terrestrial species (-24%). The decline was worst among tropical species (-60%) and in species in low-income countries (-58%). Though temperate species make some gains in this period (+29%), thanks to improved environmental management in many regions, much of the change is probably because these species started from an already reduced baseline due to decades and centuries of agricultural expansion and industrialization. So much for the only bit of good news.

The high decline of species in low-income countries is clearly affected by globalization and consumption patterns in high-income countries. Our high ecological footprint is taking its toll. An excellent way to see this is through the Living Planet Report Mindmap. Here you can see how we’re all linked to biodiversity, how our footprint influences biodiversity and what choices we have for the future. It's an excellent resource worth exploring. You can also download and read the entire report.

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