Living Planet Index Time to Panic

Recently, the phrase “double global emergency” has been in the news. This is in the context of biodiversity loss and climate change, which is what the Living Planet Index tells us. This index is published by the World Wildlife Fund For Nature (WWF), in collaboration with ZSL. The report points to a “devastating” loss of biodiversity. Indeed, the preservation of biodiversity is essential to counter the impact of climate change.

What is the connection ?

The report uses Living Planet Index to calculate the steady decline of vertebrate species, which is published once every two years. It is a measure of global biological diversity on population trends of vertebrate species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. It is published by the Institute of Zoology (Zoology Society of London) and was founded in 1826.

What are the conclusions of the report?

In a nutshell, the population of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish has fallen by 69% since the 1970s. The greatest loss has occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean region , where the population declined by 94% between 1970 and 2018. Biodiversity preservation is expected to increase, but the report highlights that we are headed in the negative direction.

The 2022 edition presents a population of 32,000 inhabitants of 5,230 species around the world. Freshwater species worldwide are reduced by 83%, mangroves continue to disappear at a rate of 0.13% per year. The LPI of freshwater fish that are migratory in nature shows a 76% decline. They are being degraded by overexploitation and pollution, as well as by natural stressors such as storms and coastal erosion. About 137 square kilometers of the Sundarbans mangrove forest in India and Bangladesh have been eroded since 1985, reducing land and ecosystem services for many of the 10 million people who live there.

Source: WWF

One of the main conclusions is that land use change remains the main driver of biodiversity loss. Unless we limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate change will become the main cause of biodiversity loss for decades to come. In 2021, for the first time, the United Nations bodies on climate and biodiversity – IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ) have come together to highlight the multiple links between climate and the biodiversity crisis, including their common roots, and warn of the emerging risks of an unsustainable future.

The index also indicates which species are most vulnerable to decline, ancient plant groups are most at risk, while corals are declining rapidly.

Source: WWF

What are the recommendations?

Biodiversity loss and climate change had to be treated as one problem rather than two different problems because they are closely linked. A positive approach to nature must be taken, which requires game-changing remedies in the way we produce, consume, govern and finance in the future. The idea is to ensure that the costs and benefits of everyone’s actions are socially just and equitably shared.

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