Humanity is consuming more natural resources each year than the earth can produce

People are plundering the world’s resources at a pace that way outstrips the planet’s capacity to sustain life, says a report by the Geneva-based environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The “Living Planet Report” examines the “ecological footprint” – or environmental impact – of the planet’s 6.4 billion-strong population.

The report is the WWF’s periodic update on the state of the world’s ecosystems – as measured by the “Living Planet Index” – and the human pressure on them through the consumption of renewable natural resources – as measured by the “Ecological Footprint.” There is a cause-effect linkage between the two measures.

The report says that humanity is now consuming over 20 per cent more natural resources each year than the earth can produce.

“It is possible to exceed ecological limits for a while, but this over-spend leads to the destruction of ecological assets, on which the world’s economy depends,” says the report.

These are assets such as: depleted ground water, collapsed fisheries, carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere, and deforestation.

“We are spending nature’s capital faster than it can regenerate,” said WWF Director-General Dr Claude Martin.

The biggest offender in this regard, according to WWF, is the United States, and I would say that there are no surprised there. Although it has only 4.5 per cent of the world’s population, it consumes more than 29 per cent of the world’s annual output of renewable natural resources thereby making it by far the most wasteful society on earth.

While the United States has for years been urging developing countries to adopt economic policies that promote “sustainable development,” there is is no sign that the US itself is about to adopt such policies. In fact, its policies in recent years – especially under the Bush administration – seem to have been geared to making its own economic development less and less sustainable.

As per usual with the United States, the World Policeman, it is “do as we tell you, but don't do as we do”. This just cannot be allowed to continue and it is not just in the field of the environment like that.

The waste is going on is appalling. Be that in respect to fishing or other areas. This must be stopped if mankind is going to survive and this has nothing to do with global warming or, as it is called nowadays, climate change. Mankind, presently, is carrying out full scale rape of the planet's ecosystems with no regard for the future.

There is a point to the talk that the earth is overpopulated and with the earth having about 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and sea space, after all unproductive areas of icecaps, desert and open spaces are discounted, or about a quarter of its surface area and when that is divided between the current estimated global population of 6.4 billion, this total equates to 1.78 hectares per person, then there is probably more than a little truth in that. However, if we would look after the environment better and would not rape the planet, I am nearly sure, that we could handle it all better.

On the other hand; what is causing the overpopulation? Or why is it more than in the past? It is because nowadays we no longer have devastating wars and also as soon as there is a famine or food shortage somewhere the west steps in with its overproduced wheat and other produce.

Hold a second. Did I say “overproduced”? Yes, I did. So, if there is overproduction, what does that mean? It means that we produce too much – I know, I am repeating myself somewhat – and that means that, if we produced less we still would feed everyone at home in our own countries and if we but helped the developing nations to produce food for themselves rather than Kenyan farmers growing “organic” beans for the UK market, there would be less pressure on the planet. After, that is to say, we stopped acting stupid and raping the Earth.

With a little thought we can all live well on this planet without running out of food. At least I should hope so.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008