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Does the environmental cause justify all excesses and shortcuts?

According to the WWF, global wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 69% since 1970[1] !

This frightening figure will undoubtedly be picked up by all the media and become THE absolute truth: we (humans) have destroyed 69% of wild animals!

If the disappearance of animal species is extremely worrying and undeniable, and if human activity - notably through food production - is indisputably responsible, it is necessary to examine what lies behind this figure, as OurWorldInData has just done in its publication: Living Planet Index: what does an average decrease of 69% really mean[2] ?

First of all, what does 'wildlife' mean?

It actually covers only a small percentage of species: only 16% of known bird species, 11% of mammals, 6% of fish and 3% of amphibians and reptiles. In addition, many taxonomic groups are not included at all - nothing on insects, fungi, corals or plants. So it is not all wildlife, but only a small part.

Secondly, the Living Planet Index is an average, and as everyone knows, an average is very strongly affected by extreme values. Of the 14700 populations selected by WWF, 356 are indeed in a very critical situation. If they are removed from the study, the trend for the remaining 14344 populations shows certain stability, or even a slight increase, as shown in the graph below.

Of course, this does not change the fact that some species are disappearing and that we must do everything we can to stop this slaughter. The loss of biodiversity at a global level is undeniable. It is as dramatic as the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate and will affect the ability of humankind, and life on the planet in general, to sustain itself and thrive.

This analysis is not intended to minimise the problem, but rather to encourage a focus on protection efforts for populations that are actually disappearing, rather than suggesting that 69% of all vertebrate species are extinct.

We already have enough reasons to be depressed...

Manipulation of figures, known as 'greenwashing' when it comes from the private sector, discredits the message and the bearer of the message and ultimately risks harming the cause it seeks to defend.

A little science doesn't hurt.

[1] [2]

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