WWF: ‘Eco credit crunch’ on the horizon

The world is heading for an "ecological credit crunch" and demand for resources is outstripping what the earth can supply, according to the WWF.

The charity’s latest Living Planet Report has issued a stark warning about the state of the planet’s health.

Human demand on natural resources is nearly a third more than the earth can support, wildlife is in decline, and about 50 countries are slipping into a state of permanent or seasonal water stress, it claimed.

The report, produced with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, shows that the people of America and the United Arab Emirates have the biggest impact on the planet.

Citizens of Malawi, in Africa, and Afghanistan have the smallest ecological footprint.

The UK comes in at number 15 in the table, with an ecological footprint the same as 33 countries in Africa put together.

According to the report, some of the average ecological footprints per person were:

  • US – 9.4 global ha
  • UK – 5.3 global ha
  • China – 2.1 global ha
  • Congo – 0.5 global ha
  • “If our demands continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid 2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles,” James Leape, director general of the WWF International, said.

    Dr Mathis Wackernagel, executive director of Global Footprint Network,” said: “Resource limitations and ecosystem collapses would trigger massive stagflation, with the value of investments plummeting, while food and energy costs skyrocket.”

    The Living Planet Index, compiled by the Zoological Society of London, shows a nearly 30% decline since 1970 in nearly 5,000 populations of wildlife, covering nearly 1,700 species.

    The new report also shows the situation is worsening. The last Living Planet Report, published in 2006, revealed that the 2003 ecological footprint was 25% larger than the earth could support, and predicted the two planet requirement would not be reached until about 2050.

    Kate Martin

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