Running On Empty
"Living Planet Report 2006," released today by the global conservation group WWF and the Global Footprint Network, says that by 2050 humanity will demand twice as much as the planet can supply.
The report utilizes two different indices, the Living Planet Index and the Ecological Foorprint. The first reflects the condition of ecosystems, the second indicates the human impact.
As to that footprint, there is this scary revelation:
It calculates that in 2003, humanity's ecological footprint was 25 percent larger than the planet's capacity to produce these resources - meaning that it took about one year and three months for the Earth to regenerate what we used in a single year. That figure is projected to rise to 30 percent this year and to 100 percent in 2050.
Without a change, precious resources will continue to dwindle. And those unable to pay the price will do without.
Despite efforts to address it, fossil fuel use still figures largely here.
The fastest growing part of that footprint is fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions, increasing more than nine fold from 1961 to 2003.
Unfortunately there has been a failure to achieve any harmony between supply and demand, what is available and what is used. It may be our undoing.
James Leape is director general of WWF International with 4,400 staff and offices in more than 100 countries.
"We have been exceeding the Earth's ability to support our lifestyles for the past 20 years, and we need to stop," he said. "We must balance our consumption with the natural world's capacity to regenerate and absorb our wastes. If we do not, we risk irreversible damage."