Thursday, October 21, 2004

World Living Beyond Its Environmental Means-WWF

From Reuters
The world is consuming some 20 percent more natural resources a year than the planet can produce, conservationist group WWF warned on Thursday.

Urging governments to move rapidly to restore the ecological balance, the Swiss-based group said rich countries, particularly in North America, were largely to blame for the situation.

"We are running up an ecological debt which we will not be able to pay off," Dr Claude Martin, director-general of WWF International, told a news conference.

In its 'Living Planet Report 2004,' the fifth in a series, the WWF said that between 1970 and 2000, populations of marine and terrestrial species fell 30 percent. That of freshwater species declined 50 percent.

"This is a direct consequence of increasing human demand for food, fiber, energy and water," it said.

What WWF calls the "ecological footprint" -- the amount of productive land needed on average worldwide to sustain one person -- currently stood at 2.2 hectares (5.43 acres).

But the earth had only 1.8 hectares (4.45 acres) per head -- based on the planet's estimated 11.3 billion hectares (27.9 billion acres) of productive land and sea space divided between its 6.1 billion people.

"...humans consume 20 percent more natural resources than the earth can produce," WWF said.

This contrasted with the position in 1960, the year WWF was launched, when the world used only 50 percent of what the earth could generate.

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