Visualizing the Biggest Threats to Earth’s Biodiversity
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Visualizing the Biggest Threats to Earth’s Biodiversity

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Earth's biodiversity loss

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The Biggest Threats to Earth’s Biodiversity

Biodiversity benefits humanity in many ways.

It helps make the global economy more resilient, it functions as an integral part of our culture and identity, and research has shown it’s even linked to our physical health.

However, despite its importance, Earth’s biodiversity has decreased significantly over the last few decades. In fact, between 1970 and 2016, the population of vertebrate species fell by 68% on average worldwide. What’s causing this global decline?

Today’s graphic uses data from WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 to illustrate the biggest threats to Earth’s biodiversity, and the impact each threat has had globally.

Measuring the Loss of Biodiversity

Before looking at biodiversity’s biggest threats, first thing’s first—how exactly has biodiversity changed over the years?

WWF uses the Living Planet Index (LPI) to measure biodiversity worldwide. Using data from over 4,000 different species, LPI tracks the abundance of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians across the globe.

Here’s a look at each region’s average decline between 1970 and 2016:

RankRegionAverage decline (between 1970 and 2016)
1Latin America & Caribbean94%
2Africa65%
3Asia Pacific45%
4North America33%
5Europe and Central Asia24%

Latin America & Caribbean has seen the biggest drop in biodiversity at 94%. This region’s drastic decline has been mainly driven by declining reptile, amphibian, and fish populations.

Despite varying rates of loss between regions, it’s clear that overall, biodiversity is on the decline. What main factors are driving this loss, and how do these threats differ from region to region?

Biggest Threats to Biodiversity, Overall

While it’s challenging to create an exhaustive list, WWF has identified five major threats and shown each threats proportional impact, averaged across all regions:

ThreatProportion of threat (average across all regions)
Changes in land and sea use50%
Species overexploitation24%
Invasive species and disease13%
Pollution7%
Climate Change6%

Across the board, changes in land and sea use account for the largest portion of loss, making up 50% of recorded threats to biodiversity on average. This makes sense, considering that approximately one acre of the Earth’s rainforests is disappearing every two seconds.

Species overexploitation is the second biggest threat at 24% on average, while invasive species takes the third spot at 13%.

Biggest Threats to Biodiversity, By Region

When looking at the regional breakdown, the order of threats in terms of biodiversity impact is relatively consistent across all regions—however, there are a few discrepancies:

In Latin America and Caribbean, climate change has been a bigger biodiversity threat than in other regions, and this is possibly linked to an increase in natural disasters. Between 2000 and 2013, the region experienced 613 extreme climate and hydro-meteorological events, from typhoons and hurricanes to flash floods and droughts.

Another notable variation from the mean is species over-exploitation in Africa, which makes up 35% of the region’s threats. This is higher than in other regions, which sit around 18-27%.

While the regional breakdowns differ slightly from place to place, one thing remains constant across the board—all species, no matter how small, play an important role in the maintenance of Earth’s ecosystems.

Will we continue to see a steady decline in Earth’s biodiversity, or will things level out in the near future?

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Agriculture

The World’s Top Coffee Producing Countries

Coffee is the third most consumed beverage globally. Here we visualize the countries that have the highest coffee production in the world.

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The World’s Top Coffee Producing Countries

In many cities around the world, there’s a café on every corner, so it comes as no surprise that coffee is one of the globes’ top commodities. As the third most consumed beverage globally, after water and tea, coffee beans are in high demand almost everywhere.

The top producing nations each produce billions of kilograms of coffee beans that find their way into the hands of eager consumers. According to the International Coffee Organization, a total of 169.6 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee were produced worldwide in 2020.

So, why does the world universally love coffee so much?

For The Love of Coffee

As most coffee lovers would tell you, drinking coffee is a complex and nuanced experience—there’s the rich aroma, the comforting warmth, and the loveliness of the ritual of sitting down with a fresh cup.

With the variety of ways it can be served and the jolt of caffeine it provides us, it’s not hard to see why the world loves its coffee. In fact, we love the beverage so much that humans have conditioned themselves to associate the bitter taste of coffee with a bout of energy and positive reinforcement.

So, where does the journey of each cup of joe originate? Let’s get to know the world’s top coffee producing countries.

The World’s Coffee Production Leaders

At the end of 2020, the top 10 biggest coffee-producing nations held 87% of the commodity’s market share.

Here is a list of the top 20 largest coffee-producing nations in the world:

RankCountryProduction in 2020
(Million 60-kg Bags)
Total Market Share
1🇧🇷 Brazil63.437.4%
2🇻🇳 Vietnam29.017.1%
3🇨🇴 Colombia14.38.4%
4🇮🇩 Indonesia12.07.1%
5🇪🇹 Ethiopia7.34.3%
6🇭🇳 Honduras6.13.6%
7🇮🇳 India5.73.4%
8🇺🇬 Uganda5.63.3%
9🇲🇽 Mexico4.02.4%
10🇵🇪 Peru3.82.2%
11🇬🇹 Guatemala3.72.2%
12🇳🇮 Nicaragua2.71.6%
13🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire1.81.1%
14🇨🇷 Costa Rica1.50.9%
15🇹🇿 Tanzania0.90.5%
16🇰🇪 Kenya0.70.4%
17🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea0.70.4%
18🇱🇦 Laos0.60.4%
19🇸🇻 El Salvador0.60.4%
20🇹🇭 Thailand0.60.4%

While some of the world’s top coffee-producing nations are well known, others may come as a surprise. More than 70 countries produce coffee, but the majority of global output comes from just the top five producers: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.

Meet the Top Coffee Producing Countries

1. Brazil

Brazil is a true powerhouse of coffee production. The country single-highhandedly produces nearly 40% of the world’s coffee supply.

Many areas in Brazil have a climate perfectly conducive to coffee farming. Coffee plantations cover about 27,000 square kilometers of Brazil, with the majority located in Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Parana.

Brazil distinguishes itself from most other coffee-producing nations by drying the coffee cherries in the sun (unwashed coffee) rather than washing them.

The country is so influential to coffee production that the 60-kilogram burlap bags historically used to export beans from Brazil are still the worldwide standard for measuring production and trade.

2. Vietnam

Vietnam found a niche in the international market by focusing primarily on the less-expensive Robusta bean. Robusta beans can have up to twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, giving the coffee a more bitter taste.

Though coffee has been grown in the region for well over a century, production skyrocketed through the 1990s after Vietnam’s communist government introduced economic reforms (known as Đổi Mới).

coffee production in vietnam

Today, Vietnam accounts for more than 40% of the world’s Robusta bean production.

Coffee cultivation in Vietnam is also extremely productive. The country’s coffee yields are considerably higher than other top coffee-producing countries.

3. Colombia

A popular advertising campaign featuring a fictional coffee farmer named Juan Valdez helped brand Colombia as one of the most famous coffee-producing nations. A coveted drink of choice, Colombian coffee is prized for its aromatic, mild, and fruity flavors.

4. Indonesia

Some of the rarest coffees in the Western world originate in Indonesia, including Kopi Luwak—a type of bean that has been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. Coffee made from these coffee beans might cost you anywhere between $35 to $100 per cup.

5. Ethiopia

Known for its full-flavored, down-to-earth, and full-bodied coffee beans, Ethiopia is the country that gave us the Arabica coffee plant. Today this type of coffee is considered to be the most widely sold in cafes and restaurants across the world.

All of these top producing countries are found in the so-called “Bean Belt”, which is located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

coffee bean belt

The Future of Coffee Production

With global temperatures on the rise, good coffee may become increasingly challenging to grow. To future-proof good and continued growth of coffee beans, finding newer and hybrid blends of coffee beans is essential.

Several studies and research missions have found wild species of coffee growing off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire and in certain regions of Sierra Leone, which could be the answer to our coffee production problems. Coffee from these coffee plants tasted similar to the famous Arabica bean and also grew at higher temperatures.

Though the future of coffee production around the world is somewhat uncertain, our collective love of the morning cup of coffee will drive innovative solutions, even in the face of changing climate patterns.

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Energy

Ranked: The 50 Companies That Use the Highest Percentage of Green Energy

Which U.S. companies use the most green energy as a percentage of total energy used? Here are the 50 highest ranked companies according to the EPA.

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Which Companies Use the Most Green Energy?

Green energy was once a niche segment of the wider energy industry, but it’s quickly becoming an essential energy source in many regions and nations across the globe.

Based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this infographic by SolarPower.Guide shows the top 50 greenest companies, based on the highest proportion of green energy used in their overall consumption mix.

Leaders in Green Energy Use

As green energy becomes more affordable, some major businesses like Google, Wells Fargo, and Apple are embracing it in a big way.

It also helps that institutional investors are nudging companies in that direction anyways, especially as they become more focused on incorporating environment, social and governance (ESG) into their portfolios.

Here are the top 15 U.S. companies that use the highest percentage of green energy:

RankCompanyGreen Power useAnnual Green Power Use (kWh)
#1The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.139%91,843,084
#2Voya Financial120%40,000,000
#3BNY Mellon113%268,000,000
#4Sephora112%112,323,000
#5Bank of America109%1,855,505,589
#6Church & Dwight Co.107%159,445,000
#7Google LLC106%7,492,567,647
#8The Hartford Financial Services Group106%68,835,000
#9Wells Fargo105%1,843,545,975
#10Equinix104%2,360,296,352
#11State Street Corp.104%158,991,503
#12Aldi103%984,430,521
#13Apple Inc.101%2,202,581,271
#14Starbucks101%1,119,392,000
#15TD Bank101%210,209,954

Note: The values reflect the amount of green power as a percentage of a company’s total electricity use. Companies that purchase green power exceeding their total organization-wide electricity use will show a value greater than 100%.

Green Energy vs. Renewable Energy

The term “green energy” is often met with confusion by some and is sometimes just referred to as “renewables” by others. So, what is green energy, and how is it different from other sources of renewable energy?

Green energy is a subset of renewable energy and represents those energy sources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

Other renewable types of energy exist, but may not be considered fully green, at least as the EPA defines it. For example, while massive hydro projects provide a renewable source of energy, they can also have big impact on the environment. Same goes for non-eligible biomass—a category which includes biomass that may not be close to carbon-neutral.

Climate Commitments

In addition to the use of green power for operations, major companies are also looking at the bigger picture and setting targets to achieve carbon neutrality.

Here are a few of the major companies that have made climate commitments in the near future:

CompanyCommitmentBy Year
AppleNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
IkeaClimate Positive2030
Burger KingNet Zero Operations2030
MicrosoftNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
BBCNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
FacebookNet Zero Value Chain2030
VerizonNet Zero Carbon Emission2035
UnileverNet Zero Carbon Emission2039
Pepsi Co.Net Zero Carbon Emission2040
BPNet Zero Carbon Emission2050

This will undoubtedly impact their overall consumption and the energy mix in the years to come.

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