Home Tech The wildlife stocks of the earth have fallen by 60 percent since...

The wildlife stocks of the earth have fallen by 60 percent since 1970

According to a chilling report from the World Wildlife Fund this week, humans have been witnessing a sharp decline in wildlife populations around the world over the last 4½ decades.

The nonprofit organization has published its Living Planet report every two years since 1998. The report is based on the Living Planet Index, which provides an inventory of Earth's biodiversity by examining 16,704 populations of more than 4,000 vertebrate species worldwide.

This year's report found that populations of mammals, birds, fish reptiles and amphibians declined by an average of 60 percent between 1970 and 2014. And man is largely to blame. The biggest threats to wildlife, including habitat loss and destruction, climate change, overfishing and overhunting, says the report.

Michael Meijer about Getty Images

Pollinators such as the red-tailed bumblebee are susceptible to urban enlargement, climate change and disease threats.

Although the report is startling, there have been some misleading headlines. The "60 percent number" does not mean that 60 percent of the species have died out. It does not mean that the world has lost 60 percent of all animals.

Instead, the number represents the average decline in population sizes, not the decline in the total number of animals. For example, a population of 200 animals that shrink to 100 would mean a 50 percent decline. And a population of 10 animals that would shrink to 3 would be a 70 percent decline. Taken together, this would be an average population decline of 60 percent. But the total number of disappeared animals would be 107 out of 300 animals or 35 percent.

And as noted by the Atlantic writer Ed Yong, about half of the species included in the Living Planet Index are actually increasing. And that may sound like good news, but this means that the shrinking species in the population have even fallen by more than 60 percent.

According to the report, species of animals in the tropics of South and Central America include freshwater species and wildlife. Freshwater habitats, according to the report, are particularly prone to threats such as climate change, invasive species, overfishing and habitat destruction.

"Wildlife around the world is dwindling," WWF US President Carter Roberts said in a statement. "It reminds us that we need to change the course. It is time to reconcile our consumption with the needs of nature and protect the only planet that is our home. "

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