WWF Living Planet Report 2012
WWF published its biennial Living Planet Report 2012 this week in the WWF site. It is simple, engaging, and reader friendly without compromising the hard facts of the challenges facing our planet today.
The Living Planet Report 2012 doesn’t beat around the bush despite its short summaries and reader friendly graphics: our planet is being overtaxed with our generation’s rate of consumption of natural resources.
Studies shows that humans’ Ecological Footprint has maintained a “consistent trend of overconsumption,” reflected in the discrepancy between the earth’s overall biocapacity and human’s rate of consumption of natural resources. According to the report, the planet is taking one and a half years to regenerate the renewable resources that people consume in a year, translating to an ecological overshoot situation. The analogy of overdrawing from a bank account is used to illustrate the situation between our planet’s resources and the demands placed on them.
The Living Planet Index showed that biodiversity health declined by 28% globally and the tropical Living Planet more than 60% since 1970, whereas the temperate Living Planet increased by 31%. The index used trends in the size of populations (9,014 in total) of more than 2,600 mammal, bird, fish, etc. species from several biomes and regions. Biodiversity, ecosystem services, human health and livelihood are all linked together. A mindset focusing on sustainability in meeting human demands for food, water, energy, materials, etc. is needed to help reverse the trends of over consumption and disproportionate demands that is taxing the planet’s resources.
The five greatest direct pressures on biodiversity are outlined as such:
- The loss, alteration, and fragmentation of habitats
- Overexploitation (of wild species’ populations)
- Climate Change
- Invasive Species
-WWF Living Planet Report 2012
Natural habitats are lost mainly through conversion to agricultural lands and other urban uses (aquacultural, industrial, etc.). Freshwater habitats are also lost due to damming and other flow regulation measures. The overexploitation of wild species for food, materials, or medicine is also affecting and changing biodiversity in different parts of the world. Pollution occurs mainly from excessive pesticide and fertilizer use. Invasive species are also cited as a direct pressure on biodiversity because they not only alter habitats, but drive native species to extinction in some cases.
The report cites forest conservation as an important and effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gases emissions that are driving climate change. Unchecked deforestation and forest degradation leads to more build up of greenhouse gases, which in turn also damage forests and reduce the ecosystem services they provide.
The WWF Living Planet Report 2012 proposes a One Planet perspective in managing, governing, and sharing the planet’s natural capital while staying within ecological boundaries. It outlines five “Better Choices” for the world to take toward a more balanced pattern of global consumption and production within the earth’s biocapacity:
- Preserve natural capital: Protect biodiversity
- Produce Better
- Consume more wisely
- Redirect financial flows
- Equitable resource governance
-WWF Living Planet Report 2012
While the challenges facing the planet and humanity today are no little matter, they are also not impossible to address and overcome. It didn’t take only one person to drive our planet ecologically off-balance; it will take more than one person to put it right. Just like Frank Knight, we can all start with our own little Herbie to help and make a difference for our living planet.
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