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The Anthropogenic Slot machine is a browser-based artwork that conflates the use of slot machines with the astounding decline of wild animal populations internationally. We are literally gambling these precious species away with our addiction to fossil fuels, clearing forests and wetlands, and land use policies.

The sounds you hear as you spin this slot machine are animals that have gone extinct or are close to extinction. When you spin the machine and end with a machine in one of the slits when the roll stops, the screen goes blood red, and you hear sounds of industry and machines.

Conflating the addictive act of gambling and the financial ruin that often results, in the loss of precious wildlife and species, seems appropriate, as we continue to overconsume natural habitats.

According to the World Wild Life Fund for a Living Planet Index, wild populations of animal species have declined by nearly 70% in the last 50 years. Their landmark assessment highlights”devastating” losses to nature and their connection to human anthropogenic activities, including, and primarily associated with, the burning of fossil fuels.

Data from 32,000 populations of more than 5,000 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish shows accelerating global decline. Latin America and the Caribbean, two regions with the most biodiversity-rich, show animal population loss is as high as 94%.

Current estimates are there are 150 to 200 billion tonnes of carbon fixed in the forests of the Amazon, equivalent to 550 to 740 billion tonnes of CO2, or 10 to 15 times more than our annual greenhouse gas emissions. Lakes and oceans are also under assault as the WWF index found declines in freshwater species exceeded those in other habitats, with an 83% population fall. The tragic reality is that the oceans absorb the heat equivalent of seven Hiroshima nuclear explosions every second from all the fossil fuels humans are burning. A Kiloton is an explosive power equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT. Fifteen kilotons every second is the same as 1,296,000,000 kilotons each day.

The main drivers of wildlife loss on land are habitat degradation as a result of farming, developments, animal exploitation as well as the introduction of invasive species. Pollution, climate change, and disease also play significant roles in these international declines.

One primary cause was wasteful agricultural practices which may result in a global food chain collapse.

These practices are responsible for more than 80% of deforestation. Agricultural runoff and ocean overfishing are also driving a collapse of fishery stocks and populations in those delicate habitats. Increasing conservation and restoration efforts while producing and consuming food more sustainably as well as decarbonizing human industry and transportation can help to alleviate the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Mr. Lambertini. of WWF says “We need to stress the fact that nature loss is not just a moral issue of our duty to protect the rest of the world. It is actually an issue of material value, an issue of security for humanity as well.”

The population losses were not equally spread throughout the planet sighting Europe, for example; which saw an 18% decline in wildlife populations.

In Africa, things are direr as 70% of human livelihoods rely on natural systems for survival and food and the report shows a 66% decline in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2022.

We have treated these plant, insect, and animal populations and the earth they depend on like a slot game. Regretfully this is a game where all lose.

This artwork allows us to realize we are both gambling the future health of all these species and necessary biodiversity, as well as our survival as a species.