As cataclysmic events go, it's right up there ...

But it's an "event" that has been going on so long that it has been captured by boiling frog syndrome, and the slow, drip-drip impact doesn't make much of a ripple.

The world's animal kingdom shrank by 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet report tells us.

The report was released this week — it made the TV news in New Zealand and a few newspapers.


But it is not a tragic event in the way that an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, or a budget airline plane going down is, so it may not make a lasting mark on the public consciousness.

It is mass extinction on a scale maybe last seen in the great Ice Age; it's genocide, ethnic cleansing ... it's terrorism on a scale bigger than Isis could dream of. Global wildlife is being terrorised ... we need a "war on terror".

The Living Planet report, published every two years, tracked more than 4000 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

Freshwater species saw an 83 per cent drop, threatened by factors including overfishing, pollution and climate change.

Every day we — that's the human animal — are wiping species off the face of the Earth. Anyone would think we owned the planet.

The toll is unprecedented in recorded history.

Our increasing demand for food production and our greedy exploitation of natural resources mean only a quarter of the world's land is untouched by humans.

Many of the natural systems being decimated are vital for human survival, so it may prove to be a slow form of suicide.


The World Wildlife Fund says — somewhat optimistically — that there is still a window to turn things around. We have the ability to reverse the trends, but do we have the will?

"We can be the founders of a global movement that changed our relationship with the planet, that saw us secure a future for all life on Earth, including our own," the report says.

Carter Roberts, president of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States, says: "We need to change course. It's time to balance our consumption with the needs of nature, and to protect the only planet that is our home."