Global Rate of Consumption Reaches 1.5 Planets; America Reaches 4.

The rate at which Americans use natural resources is strikingly unsustainable; yet, they are not alone. Fortunately, the WWF has come up with some ways to fix it.

The planet is suffering from man’s demand for food, water, ipads, and airplanes. Not only are we over consuming our natural resources at an unsustainable rate, but the amount of biodiversity in many parts of the world is dramatically declining. In order to combat this problem, the WWF, one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, has laid out a global plan.

According to the recent WWF Living Planet Report, the rate of resources we consume globally in one year requires 1.5 years time for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources used, and absorb the CO2 waste produced. Think about that stress on our Earth’s resources, year after year, without time to recuperate and replenish.

Although this statistic may seem high, consumption is expected to increase during the next decades. One main factor will be the increase in population and economic growth in countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa – often called the “BRIICS” for their recent economic success. As developing countries grow, they are going to demand lifestyles and consumption rates similar to those seen in fellow “rich” countries. If they attempt to attain lifestyles similar to Americans, we’ll need 4 planets worth of resources to meet these demands.

Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2012

So, what are we supposed to do? In the Living Planet Report, the WWF has defined 5 areas in which our current global system needs to focus their efforts:

Preserve Natural Capital by focusing on significantly expanding the “global protected areas network”; stopping further loss of what the WWF calls “priority habitats”; and restoring already damaged ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Produce Better by working to work to reduce inputs and waste creation in our current production systems –making them more efficient.

Consume More Wisely with a specific focus on shrinking the Ecological Footprint of “richer” populations and on helping emerging economies toward sustainable consumption levels and renewable energy sources.

Redirect Financial Flows toward investments, policies and products that “support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation”. To help this process, WWF suggests implementation of a globally accepted system for measuring the value of natural capital in financial analysis and integrating of the social and environmental costs of production into accounting statements.

Equitable Resource Management which involves promoting the transition to resource-efficient cities; implementing policies to analyze and manage competing land and water use claims; and measuring success “beyond GDP”, by including environmental measures and human well-being.

Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2012

According to the WWF, “implementing such a paradigm shift will be a tremendous challenge. We all face uncomfortable choices and trade-offs, but only by taking brave, informed decisions can healthy, sustainable and equitable human societies be ensured, now and into the future.”

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For more information, you can visit the WWF Living Planet Report at www.panda.org/lpr


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