A new report says the world lost a staggering 60 percent of its wildlife populations over a period of four decades.
In its 2018 Living Planet Report, the World Wildlife Fund cites deforestation, climate change and a rise in pollution for the decline among 16,700 populations between 1970 and 2014.
The report says that half of the world’s shallow-water corals have been wiped out over the last 30 years; ivory poaching has reduced the elephant population in Tanzania by more than 60 percent between 2009 and 2014, and 100,000 orangutans in Borneo died between 1999 and 2015 due to deforestation.
The WWF also predicts the number of polar bears will be reduced by 30 percent by 2050 as climate change melts the Arctic ice.
“It’s mind-blowing,” says WWF Director-General Marco Lambertini, describing the crisis as “unprecedented in its speed, in its scale, and because it is single-handed.” The group is calling for an international treaty to protect wildlife, but says it must be enacted within two years to actually make a difference, due to the fast pace of destruction. (VOA)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has wrapped up a three-day trip to the South Pacific to reassure vulnerable island nations that Canberra is serious about tackling climate change.
Morrison told Pacific Island leaders that Australia would meet its international obligations to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate change agreement.
Many low-lying communities fear that rising sea levels will force them from their homes. In Samoa, coastal villages are already making plans to relocate to higher ground in the nation’s volcanic interior.
Morrison’s three-day trip to Vanuatu and Fiji has been described by foreign policy experts as mostly a success.
Coal a sticking point
But climate change remains a source of friction between Australia and its smaller neighbors. Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama criticized Canberra for not doing more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the economy’s reliance on coal. Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of carbon pollution.
Australia is also eager to counter China’s growing strategic influence in the South Pacific, although Morrison insists all countries should work together.
“We are here because we are for the independent sovereignty and prosperity of Vanuatu because they are our Pacific neighbors and family. That is why we are here,” he said. “Our objectives and our motives here, I think, are very transparent to our family and friends here in the Pacific, particularly here in Vanuatu. This question is put to me all the time. I mean, we do not have to choose. We just have to work cooperatively together.”
Australia has also mended a previously fraught relationship with Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama is a former commander of the Fijian military who deposed an elected government in 2006. Democracy was restored to Fiji, an archipelago of about 900,000 people, in 2014.