The over-use and pollution of Earth’s natural resources have become so extreme that, at current rates, a second planet will be needed by 2030 to meet the world’s needs, a new report warns.
The planet’s 6.8 billion people were living 50% beyond Earth’s sustainable means in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the biannual “Living Planet” report by WWF, a conservation group previously known as the World Wildlife Fund.
“Even with modest U.N. projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption,” the report says, adding that four and a half planets would be needed if everyone used as many resources as the average American.
The report comes shortly before countries begin meeting in Nagoya, Japan, on Oct. 18 to discuss the Earth’s dramatic loss of species at the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity.
Its index of biodiversity health showed a loss of almost 30% worldwide and an even loss of 60% in the tropics between 1970 and 2007.
“There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions,” Jim Leape, director general of WWF International, said in announcing the findings.
The report says carbon doxide emissions are a major factor, citing an 11-fold increase in our carbon footprint over the last five decades. It says the top 10 countries with the biggest ecological footprint per person are the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Denmark, Belgium, United States, Estonia, Canada, Australia, Kuwait and Ireland.
The WWF says it’s possible to have a high level of development without a high carbon footprint, and it points to choices in diet and energy consumption that can make a difference.
“The challenge posed by the Living Planet Report is clear,” Leape said. “Somehow we need to find a way to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly prosperous population within the resources of this one planet. All of us have to find a way to make better choices in what we consume and how we produce and use energy.”
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