More than two thirds of the world’s wildlife may be extinct by 2020 because of exploitation of natural resources, climate change and pollution as well as human population growth, according to a recent report released by the World Wildlife Fund.
In the report, the WWF estimated a 58 percent decline since 1970 in fish, reptiles, mammals and birds, a rate of 2 percent of wildlife a year.
In the world’s bodies of waters, such as wetlands, lakes and rivers, the WWF noted a 4 percent species decrease a year, since 1970. Some environmentalists say there is more trash than fish in the oceans.
However, some though they see the problem of the decrease in wildlife are skeptical of the statistic.
Amy Smith, adjunct professor of biology at John Brown University, recognizes the decrease in wildlife population due to human population growth and air and water pollution, but she doesn’t agree with the 58 percent statistic.
However, in light of this report, Smith said she believes that responsible action must be taken.
“As JBU faculty, students and Christians we are tasked by God to be good stewards of the earth. So when we look at statistics like this, it really brings to point, are we really being good stewards of the earth with our current choices that we’re making?” Smith asked. “The choices that influence our environment and the diversity of species we’ve got on earth are really daily choices.”
Smith thinks the WWF statistic could be proven true over time if humans keep demanding as much as they are of the earth.
“There’s not an infinite amount of resources. Our planet is an island and as the number of organisms increase, there is increased competition for those resources,” Smith said. “So far technology has helped us tremendously by allowing us to provide more food and clean water in smaller spaces.”
Martin Taylor, a WWF conservation scientist told CNN he believes the decrease in wildlife is a threat to humanity.
“Governments [need] to take action to halt the slow death of the planet because it isn’t just affecting wild species. It’s affecting us too. This is a threat to our future as a species,” Taylor said.
“We only have one planet. If we screw it up then we’re gone,” he said.
Taylor said, In order to prevent a sixth mass extinction, he believed government intervention is necessary to eliminate emissions and habitat destruction.
“There’s a lot people can do even if they’re not wealthy or living in wealthy countries, such as using renewable energy, looking for certified sustainable products and most particularly talking to your members of parliament … saying you want strong environmental laws,” Taylor said.
Some conservationists criticize the WWF report, finding it far-fetched and misleading as the information reported differs greatly in some regions of the world than in others.
According to Stuart Pimm, the Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at Duke University, interview with CNN the 58 percent decrease in wildlife sounds “silly.”
“It mixes what’s going on in the ocean with what’s going on in the land. It mixes studies of bird populations in Europe with mammal populations in Africa. It has very few data points in South America,” Pimm said.
Parker Morris, a junior biology major is skeptical of the WWF report, but agrees that humans could be more environmentally conscious.
“We need to make it an incentive for companies to become more environmentally friendly,” Morris said. “If there is a company that we find out is dumping toxic sludge into the rivers, then it is our responsibility to provide incentives for them to clean up their act, whether that be boycotting or a protest.”