Wild animals are on course to disappear by 2026, according to leading environmentalists who have branded it 'Year Zero', and say the best way to stop this is a global shift to a vegan diet.
At the rate we are killing wildlife, whales, penguins, monkeys, koalas, tigers, eagles, giraffes, and other animals will only exist in zoos within a decade, says Prevent Year Zero - a coalition of organizations which aims to stop this from happening.
The organization paints a terrifying picture of what this ecological disaster would bring, including 'unimaginable extreme weather on a scale that the human race has never experienced: extreme drought, massive wildfires, and flood events'. This in turn could trigger political and societal disruption and chaos as millions are displaced and become refugees.
Wildlife dying out
Prevent Year Zero has reached 2026 as the year wild animals die out by looking at the historical data of wildlife decline. The Living Planet Report 2014 (LPR2014) stated 52 percent of wild vertebrates died between 1970 and 2010, and LPR2016 reported that 58 percent of wild vertebrates died between 1970 and 2012.
"From 1970 to 2010, both human population and human per-capita consumption roughly doubled so that human impact on the planet increased by a factor of 3.84," says the organization.
"If we extrapolate an exponential curve that has increased by a factor of 3.84 from 1970 to 2010 to determine when 100 percent of wild vertebrates would die off, the answer is around 2026."
The coalition believes the best way to stave off this disaster is a global shift to a vegan diet; the group cites animal agriculture as 'the leading cause of global deforestation, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, ocean dead zones, soil degradation and climate change' due to it being inefficient and resource intensive.
This corroborates with a major study released earlier this year. The study, described by The Guardian as 'the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet', showed how much land is used for animal farming - and how many calories it produces for the human diet.
It revealed that animal farming uses the vast majority of farmland at 83 percent, but only provides 18 percent of calories and 37 percent of protein. It is responsible for 60 percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing your impact
The study's lead researcher, Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, said: "A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.
"It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car. Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems.
"Really it is animal products that are responsible for so much of this. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy."
According to Prevent Year Zero, more than 80 percent of the food consumed by humans in plant-based already. "Less than 20 percent of the food humans eat is meat, dairy and eggs," the organization says.
"When we reduce that percentage to zero by 2026 we will have made substantial progress towards reversing climate change, wildlife extinction and deforestation, thereby Preventing Year Zero.
"It is totally unnecessary to eat animal foods for health or survival. Following a plant-based lifestyle can reverse and prevent fourteen of the fifteen leading causes of death, including cancer and heart disease. Due to the increasing variety of plant-based food options, it is now easier than ever to go vegan."