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The survival of cheetah's cubs is very low as only 10% of cubs reach adulthood (Image by Carole Henderson from Pixabay)

Some Statistics on How Man is Destroying Nature

By David Okul

The natural environment is fundamental to humans’ survival on Earth. It also contributes to our economy and culture. Unfortunately, our ways of life are destructive to the ecosystem.

It is easy to overlook nature and think that everything will always be there. However, multiple evidence shows that nature can be destroyed.

Humans destroy the environment in several ways including:

  • Over-extracting natural resources
  • Pollution of air, soils, and water
  • Destroying landscapes

The reasons for the destruction are pretty simple. Our overpopulation and overconsumption are leading to more urbanization, agriculture, and entertainment. 

Read an article highlighting the major global environmental issues, mainly caused by humans.

Collapse of Species

The bullet points below illustrate how biodiversity is shifting. Links in the bullet points redirect to articles across websites proving the statements.

  • Livestock accounts for 62% of global mammalian biomass while humans account for 34%. Only 4% of the biomass represents wildlife species. The estimate is a startling reminder of the reduced biodiversity.
  • Poultry accounts for 61% of the world’s birds’ biomass. Some estimates claim that poultry biomass could be as much as 80%. In contrast, 4-10% of bird species are farmed as poultry.
  • Over 12% of the known species are faced with the danger of extinction. Over 30% of land and 75% of freshwater resources are utilized for food production.
  • Lost over a third of tigers and elephant populations since counting began.
  • Further, these wild areas are concentrated in about 20 countries. The wilderness areas are often the homes of indigenous communities.
  • Wildlife populations have reduced by 68% since 1970. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the drop has been over 94%.
  • Over a million species are in danger of extinction
  • One of every 3 freshwater species is faced with extinction threat.
  • IUCN has listed 77 animals as extinct in the wild. The organization’s Red List identifies 41,000 species as threatened, which represents 28% of the total species researchers assess.
  • 3 million species in the Amazon are threatened by human-caused ecosystem collapse.
  • Introduced species have significant negative impacts on the environment. The number of alien species has increased as humans move across habitats. Alien species could have dramatic impacts on the species richness of native habitats.

Habitats destruction

Habitat destruction is a leading cause of species decline.

  • Only 25% of the terrestrial land is wilderness area. That is, areas not affected by human footprint. These areas are mainly in Canada, Russia, Brazil, and Australia. Similarly, only 33% of marine-based environments are truly wild. Even more concerning is a study that claims only 3% of the earth has ecological integrity and ‘intactness’).
  • 26% of the planet (ice-free land) is used for livestock, with 33% of cropland for livestock feeds. Animal agriculture is responsible for 17% of greenhouse gas emissions. Global meat consumption has more than doubled since 1990.
  • Land use change, especially for agriculture leads to biodiversity loss and land and water degradation. In 2021 alone, 9.3 million acres of tree land in the tropics were converted to other land uses.

Water Natural resources are not spared too

The cascading effect of Nature degradation

  • Nature degradation has a cascading effect on the environment. Some of these consequences are listed as:

    • Reduction of ecosystem stability: intact ecosystems are more resilient to pressures such as climate change
    • Reduction of ecosystem services: Nature degradation often also reduces the functionality of various ecosystem services such as pollination, water provision, soil formation, carbon sequestration, and climate regulation
    • Species extinction: The loss of one species has a cascading effect on other species as well.
    • Food security: Biodiversity is vital for food security as it provides genetic resources, pollination services, and natural pest control. The destruction of nature may reduce the agricultural productivity.
    • Human health as losing biodiversity may mean losing potential treatment of diseases. Moreover, decline of ecosystem services, such as water and air purification, may increase the exposure to pollutants and pathogens
    • Economy loss: nature supports various industries including tourism, fisheries, and agriculture. The destruction of natural resources has implications for the economic development of a region
    • Loss of cultural values, in particular, of indigenous people.
    • Reduced resilience to climate change
    • Natural disaster resistance: natural disasters such as floods, storms, and landslides are less severe in areas of healthy and diverse ecosystems.

What Can We Do?

The Sustainable Development Goals recommend the following changes to reverse or reduce human impacts on nature:

Conserve wetlands, which are important breeding grounds for 40% of the worlds’ species

  • Fight ocean acidification
  • Manage Foodwaste
  • Manage pollution
  • Protect forests
  • Protect key biodiversity areas
  • Enhance climate finance to help fight climate change

The Good News

Evidence shows that conservation efforts may cause the recovery of some species. For instance, the black tail reef shark in Australia and the Nepalese Tiger have shown remarkable recovery rates by conservation efforts.

Concluding remarks

Humans are depleting the natural resources at an alarming rate. At the current rate, we will need 2.5 earths by 2050 to satisfy the consumption rate. Some of the overexploited natural resources include sand, trees, soils, fossil fuels, and water. I perceive the capitalistic mindset to be the central cause of the degradation and destruction of the environment. The solutions have to be capitalistic too. We know that natural resources have value. It is time to assign value to the resources and ensure that ecosystem services are rightly priced. It shouldn’t end there as well. The money obtained from the PES should be appropriately invested in conservation and the communities undertaking conservation activities. I feel that the environment is at a tipping point. If we don’t rationally manage it, more disasters may await us. Whether it is the effects of climate change or the proliferation of killer diseases. I believe Covid-19 could have been an environmental disaster.


Most of the references are in the links within the text. Other references include

Humans Destroying Ecosystems: How to measure our impacts on the environment (2023)

David Okul is an environmental management professional with over 15 years experience on donor projects, conservation, forestry, ecotourism, and community-based natural resources management. When not working on environmental projects, he writes for Silvica on various topics. This blog’s views are personal and do not represent the organizations he is associated with.