Still not sure how to process news of this kind:
The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found. [...] The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative â€œLiving Planet Indexâ€ (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.
The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970. […] The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% […] Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall
The trouble, I think, is that the stats come from somewhere alienated to my everyday experience. Over the short time that I’ve been alive (and the even shorter time I’ve been paying close attention) the conditions for wildlife around me have apparently stayed much the same - even improved somewhat. 200 species going extinct every day across the globe, I hear, but in the UK it seems to be ‘only’ one extinction every year on average, mainly among the invertebrates (since most of the larger vertebrates were exterminated centuries ago) - sad, but I’m not sure how I would even notice, barring knock-on effects.
This appears to be another case, like climate change, poverty, disease, famine, etc. where my material circumstances, where I was born and where I continue to live has sheltered me from the worst aspects of the global ecological catastrophe:
The biggest declines in animal numbers have been seen in low-income, developing nations, while conservation efforts in rich nations have seen small improvements overall. But the big declines in wildlife in rich nations had already occurred long before the new reportâ€™s baseline year of 1970 â€“ the last wolf in the UK was shot in 1680.
Also, by importing food and other goods produced via habitat destruction in developing nations, rich nations are â€œoutsourcingâ€ wildlife decline to those countries, said Norris. For example, a third of all the products of deforestation such as timber, beef and soya were exported to the EU between 1990 and 2008.
I hear (via Monbiot again) that huge areas of Europe that were formerly under cultivation have been reverting to a wild state and will continue to do so, leading to incredible opportunities for large, landscape-scale rewilding. Is this because the agricultural industries have finally decided to let up and allow the non-domesticated living community to have its space? No, of course not: as with other industrial manufacturers they’re simply taking their operations elsewhere, where they can make bigger profits. Simon Fairlie challenged the new-born rewilding movement in Britain with a similar point in a recent edition of The Land Magazine:
The more we rewild in Britain, the more food we will need to import and the more we are likely to dewild land in countries that provide us with substitute food. Conserving our natural environment at the expense of other peopleâ€™s is a neo-colonialist agenda. There is an environmental price to pay for having so foolishly allowed England to become one of the most overpopulated countries in the world, but that price should not be paid by people and environments in other countries. (â€˜[url=http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/articles/rewilding-and-food-security]Rewilding and Food Security[/url]')
I feel like I’m living in a bubble. On one level I don’t want the bubble to burst, don’t want to lose my illusions, but on another I realise that no real progress will be made until that happens and we (in the affluent West) finally have to deal with all the shit we’ve been pumping out into the rest of the world for all this time.