By Shaun Britton
A Damning Assessment of our Impact on the Planet
Photo by Akil Mazumder
A recent report from the WWF reveals we have decimated almost 60% of wildlife since the 1970s. It carries a stark warning for the future, and it isn't alone. In an age bombarded by damning ecological revelations of our global footprint, could a change in the way we approach animals and nature be our salvation?
Crisis Of Our Time: 12 Years To Change Course.
2018’s ‘Living Planet Report’ from the WWF, follows swiftly in the footsteps of the UN’s IPCC report, another startling proclamation that we have only 12 years to curb our climate levels and prevent catastrophe.
As the executive summary in the WWF report concludes: “We are the first generation that has a clear picture of the value of nature and our impact on it. We may be the last that can take action to reverse this trend”.
Like characters in a dystopian science fiction novel, we find ourselves peering over the horizon to a future unable to sustain us, and the beings with which we share this delicate world.
The message seems clear; if we are to continue, we cannot continue as we are. The causes for this decimation are laid firmly at the feet of humanity in the WWF report, with over-exploitation, agriculture and land conversion the prime culprits.
Damage Causing Diets And The Road To Repair
Perhaps the most unsettling example of the impact of over-exploitation and agriculture are our food systems.
A 2012 assessment found that the average water footprint per calorie for beef is 20 times larger than for cereals and starchy roots, whilst the global water footprint of cheese was reported at 5060 litres per kilogram.(3) 56 billion animals are killed annually in our food systems (4), and some organisations quote that even higher. At such a critical point in history, food systems with compassion and responsibility at their heart are vital. According to Joseph Poore, author of a recent study published in the journal Science, the answer could be as simple as changing our shopping lists — “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use”.
A New Relationship With Nature
Biodiversity’s modus operandi is interdependency, not sovereignty. The biodiversity we threaten operates like the seemingly independent yet congruent parts of a symphony. Pollination, for instance, directly affects the yield of 75% of crops globally, and without our pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, 5 to 8% of crop production would be lost. To recover it we would need an area of land higher than the current land used for agriculture, according to a Cambridge study.
More than being a purely ecological issue, biodiversity and our balance within it, is about how we see our fellow creatures and ourselves in the surrounding natural tapestry. Disconnection and entitlement will always naturally take hold of reverence and gratitude. Conservation naturally follows compassion, as we rarely seek to decimate what we treasure. Seeing the planet as a relative, rather than solely as a resource, may well halt us from letting slip through our fingers what is essential now to our survival and so nearly lost to us; harmony with nature. | Tru.🌱
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Grooten, M. And Almond, R.E.A.(Eds) WWF, Gland, Switzerland
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