Rising consumption puts biodiversity at risk

16th May 2012


Humans are consuming 50% more natural resources than the planet can sustainably produce, threatening future security and wellbeing, says the latest Living planet report from WWF.

The 2012 survey of the Earth's health measured more than 9,000 populations of over 2,600 species and found that the ever-growing demand for resources is putting huge pressure on the planet's biodiversity.

WWF reveals that it is now taking 1.5 years for the Earth to absorb all the CO2 produced and to regenerate the renewable resources that people consume in just 12 months. The survey also shows that 2.7 billion people live in areas that experience severe water shortages for at least one month every year.

"'We're now in the danger zone, exceeding the planetary boundaries for natural capital. If we continue to use up our planet’s resources faster than it can replace them, soon we’ll have exploited every available corner of the Earth," commented David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF UK.

Jonathan Baillie, conservation programme director with the Zoological Society of London, which collaborated on the survey with WWF and the Global Footprint Network, also highlighted the scale of the depletion of the Earth's natural resources.

“This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick planet. Ignoring this diagnosis will have major implications for humanity. We can restore the planet’s health, but only through addressing the root causes, population growth and over-consumption of resources,” he said.

Although the UK is not in the top 10 of countries with biggest per capita ecological footprint, its position in the league table of high-consumption countries is rising, moving five place from 31st to 27th.

The top 10 countries with the biggest footprint per person are Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, the US, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Ireland. The per capita footprint of these countries is currently six times greater than that of a low income-country like Indonesia.

Living planet 2012 is available to download at the WWF website.

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