Climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, species and communities WWF works to protect. Around the globe, we already feel the effects of climate change; our communities and Earth’s wildlife and ecosystems are being forever changed.
Extreme weather events, melting glaciers and rising sea levels—all with links to climate change—are impacting communities and natural resources today. The far-reaching effects of climate change are evident: our oceans are becoming more acidic, water supplies are shrinking, agricultural yields are dropping, and our forests are burning.
Although today’s climate impacts are serious and must be addressed, there is still time to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change. If we act now, we can better prepare for these risks and shift the way our nation, and the world, chooses and uses energy, which is by far the greatest driver of climate change.
For four decades, WWF has been part of the movement to fight this global crisis. Our vision is a world powered by renewable energy, where communities and ecosystems are resilient in the face of climate changes. We engage millions of Americans, leading businesses and government leaders to realize this future. Preparing local communities, helping ecosystems adapt to rapid change, and reducing the emissions that drive climate change are critical to a safer world for ourselves, our children and the rest of life on Earth.
It’s time to reconsider food.
Around the globe, food production, distribution, management and waste threaten wildlife, wild places and the planet itself.
Today, 7.3 billion people consume 1.5 times what the earth’s natural resources can supply. By 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion and the demand for food will double.
So how do we produce more food for more people without expanding the land and water already in use? We can’t double the amount of food. Fortunately we don’t have to—we have to double the amount of food available instead. In short, we must freeze the footprint of food.
In the near-term, food production is sufficient to provide for all, but it doesn’t reach everyone who needs it. About 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted each year—four times the amount needed to feed the more than 800+ million people who are malnourished.
By improving efficiency and productivity while reducing waste and shifting consumption patterns, we can produce enough food for everyone by 2050 on roughly the same amount of land we use now. Feeding all sustainably and protecting our natural resources.
WWF works to secure a living planet that will sustain a more affluent population. From refining production and distribution to combating waste and environmental impacts, we want to improve how the world grows, transports and consumes this precious fuel.
All life needs water. It is the world’s most precious resource, fueling everything from the food you eat, to the cotton you wear, to the energy you depend upon every day. Freshwater habitats—such as lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and aquifers—house an incredible proportion of the world’s biodiversity: more than 10% of all known animals and about 50% of all known fish species. Yet despite the massive role water plays for people and nature, it is a surprisingly finite resource. Less than 1% of the world’s water is fresh and accessible.
It’s also threatened. Climate change, population growth and changing consumption patterns are just a few of the myriad forces putting freshwater systems increasingly at risk. Freshwater species are declining at an alarming rate of 76%—much faster than terrestrial or marine species—and freshwater habitats are in worse condition than those of forests, grassland or coastal systems.
Protecting fresh water cannot happen alone. WWF partners with governments, businesses, international financial institutions and communities to ensure healthy freshwater systems exist to conserve wildlife and provide a sustainable future for all. Together, we can create a water-secure future.
Saving nature is at the very heart of what we do as WWF. For more than 50 years, we have made it our mission to find solutions that save the marvelous array of life on our planet by applying the best science available and working closely with local communities.
But our work is far from done. Humans are behind the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than nature intended. WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report found wildlife populations of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years.
And the impacts will reach far beyond the potential cultural loss of iconic species like tigers, rhinos and whales.
The good news is we’ve also seen what’s working. WWF has been part of successful wildlife recovery stories ranging from southern Africa’s black rhino to black bucks in the Himalayas. And this in turn is helping protect rich and varied ecosystems while ensuring people continue to benefit from nature.
This much is clear: we cannot afford to fail in our mission to save a living planet.
The dawn chorus of birds singing, monkeys howling, frogs calling and insects buzzing. The crystal clear waterfalls that are perfect for a refreshing afternoon swim. Fireflies that illuminate trees at night.
The beauty and tranquility of forests all over the world—from tropics to the tundra—inspire all of us. We know that eight out of 10 species found on land live in forests. Almost 300 million people, particularly in developing countries, live in forests too.
But threats to the world’s forests are growing. Expanding agriculture, due to an increased population and shifts in diet, is responsible for most of the world’s deforestation. Illegal and unsustainable logging, usually resulting from the demand for cheap wood and paper, is responsible for most of the degradation of the world’s forests.
The threats are so severe that we are losing forests at a rate equivalent to 48 football fields per minute. The Amazon, the planet’s largest rain forest, lost at least 17 percent of its forest cover in the last half century due to human activity—mainly clearing trees to create new or larger farms and ranches.
WWF is working to address the threats to forests: By 2020, we must conserve the world’s most important forests to sustain nature’s diversity, benefit our climate and support human well-being.
Most of WWF’s work is being done in tropical rain forests, which are the most biologically diverse and complex forests on Earth—forests in the Amazon, the Congo Basin, the Greater Mekong and other regions near the equator. But it also is taking place in temperate regions, such as the Russian Far East and the United States.
Life began in the oceans. They are home to an estimated two million species, from the largest animal that has ever lived to the tiniest bacteria. Marine biodiversity far outweighs that on land. New species are found all the time, as scientists estimate that 91% of marine species have yet to be discovered, catalogued or described.
Covering 71% of our planet’s surface, oceans have shaped human history, culture and lives, and continue to do so. They are a life-support system for Earth and a global commons that provide us with free goods and services, from the food we eat to more than half of the oxygen we breathe. They are the foundation to the planetary water cycle that produces rain and snow; and are a source of food, feeding more than 1 billion people with their primary source of animal protein.
The oceans also regulate the global climate; mediate temperature, and drive the weather, determining rainfall, droughts and floods. They are the worlds’ largest store of carbon where an estimated 83% of the global carbon cycle is circulated through marine waters.
WWF’s oceans work focuses on healthy and resilient marine ecosystems that support abundant biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, and thriving economies.