TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For the first time ever, Alaskan Snow Crab season has been canceled due to a 90% crash in population in the Bering Sea – from 8 billion in 2018 to just 1 billion in 2021.
This is the latest example of devastating biodiversity loss, which comes just days after the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released their latest Living Planet Report.
The analysis is alarming, finding that monitored wildlife populations have declined globally by 69% since 1970. WWF monitors 32,000 populations of 5,000 vertebrate species. In the last 50 years, we’ve lost over two-thirds of the population.
Some of the biggest losses have come from Latin America, Africa, and Asia due mostly to the destruction of land and exploitation of resources.
The report warns, “We have a broken relationship with nature” and “there is no sign that the loss of nature is being halted, let alone reversed.”
WFLA’s Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist, Jeff Berardelli, spoke with Rebecca Shaw, WWF’s Chief Scientist, to help us put this into perspective.
Jeff Berardelli: “You say this is an early warning, but it doesn’t seem early. If we have lost 69% of vertebrate populations – the ones that you monitor – it sounds like it’s late to the game. And it sounds like if we do not have transformative change very quickly that this will destabilize our ability as human beings to function successfully?”
Rebecca Shaw: “When you have a decline, on average, across populations, of 69% what it’s telling us is we have lost a lot, an incredible amount, and we need to act now. But there is still time for us to rebuild those systems, rebuild those populations, so that they can actually play their role in the functioning ecosystem that delivers us services.”
The report emphasizes that the climate challenge and biodiversity loss are interlinked and if we don’t limit warming, climate change will become the dominant cause of loss in the coming decades. You can’t solve one without solving the other.
“A lot of the things we need to do to solve the climate problem are also the things we need to do to solve the nature problem and if we don’t address them together and we don’t do so quickly – we really have a decade to really do it for both of them – we do so at our own peril,” Shaw said.
Shaw says she’s optimistic because today’s youth look at the world differently and are stepping forward to solve these problems. And just as the world meets to set goals on climate change each year, the world now does the same for nature.
The lofty goal of the international community is a full recovery by 2050.