National Geographic quotes McGill in article on catastrophic animal decline

National Geographic spoke with Brian McGill, professor of ecological modeling at the University of Maine, for the article, “Widely misinterpreted report still shows catastrophic animal decline.” The World Wildlife Fund For Nature’s recently released Living Planet Report was widely misinterpreted by many outlets, with headlines wrongly insisting that we’ve lost 60 percent of all animals over the course of 40 years, according to the article. The biannual report examined trends in the global Living Planet Index, a biologist’s “stock market index” for the diversity and abundance of animals worldwide. If the global score is steady or increasing, animals are generally thriving, while a falling score indicates a planet-wide problem, the article states. The Living Planet Index is down 60 percent since 1970, National Geographic reported. McGill explained the frustration of working on a biodiversity census by comparing it to other nature-monitoring projects with extensive infrastructure, like weather prediction. “In the U.S. alone, the National Weather Service spends billions of dollars a year to make accurate weather forecasts — investment in ground weather stations, ocean buoys, radiosonde balloons, and satellites to get the best possible measurements of the current state of the weather,” he says. “We have no equivalent for biodiversity.”