Leaving a smaller ecological footprint

The World Wildlife Fund’s recent report on global consumption came out with stark truths. It predicted that current trend could result in a…

The World Wildlife Fund’s recent report on global consumption came out with stark truths.

It predicted that current trend could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century.

The natural world is being degraded “at a rate unprecedented in human history,” says in the WWF’s biannual Living Planet Report.

The news is not so surprising given our way of life these days and what often appears to be a total disregard for our children’s future.

But what I found interesting is that, of those nations leaving the largest ecological footprint, the circumpolar countries rank very high.

Iceland did not make the list, perhaps because of the low number of inhabitants: 300,000.

However, it is not unlikely that each Icelander’s impact upon the world can be compared to that of each Dane’s or Finn’s.

Ecological footprints, as described by the BBC’s website, measure human demand on the natural world.

“The Ecological Footprint measured the amount of biologically productive land and water to meet the demand for food, timber, shelter, and absorb the pollution from human activity,” said the BBC article.

The findings in the report, compiled by the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, are also based on so-called Living Planet Index, which assesses the health of the planet’s ecosystems.

“The Living Planet Index tracked the population of 1,313 vertebrate species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals from around the world,” said the BBC.

The report warned that if we continue at the current rate, two planets would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.

What is more, if the world’s population shared the UK’s lifestyle, as more and more nations do, three planets would be needed to support our needs in 24 years.

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people that we only have one planet, and nothing to spare.

Most people are beginning to understand that Paul King, WWF director of campaigns, was correct when he said the world was running up a “serious ecological debt.”

That can be underlined by the fact that, in 2003, the global footprint exceeded the Earth’s capacity by 25 per cent.

“It is time to make some vital choices to enable people to enjoy a one -planet lifestyle,” said King to the BBC’s reporter.

“The cities, power plants and homes we build today will either lock society into damaging over-consumption beyond our lifetimes, or begin to propel this and future generations towards sustainable one planet living.”

After the report came out, the British Parliament has begun to attempt to prove to economists and businesses that economical growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand.

Prime Minister Tony Blair even announced that former US Vice-president Al Gore will assist the British government in meshing green practices with the nation’s economy.

If the Brits have gone that far, surely, it must only be a question of time until other nations do the same.

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