WWF: Average Bulgarian Uses 1.8 Times Planet's Resources

Environment | October 13, 2010, Wednesday // 17:36|  views

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has calculated the impact of each country by measuring the amount of carbon, water and other natural resources consumed by an average person in a year.

The WWF presented Wednesday in Bristol, England, its biennial Living Planet Report, which shows that populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity's demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain.

The biennial report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, uses the global Living Planet Index as a measure of the health of almost 8 000 populations of more than 2 500 species.

The Ecological Footprint, one of the indicators used in the report, shows that people's demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966 and humans are using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support their activities. If this trend of living beyond the Earth's limits continues, by 2030 people wil need the equivalent of two planets' productive capacity to meet their annual needs, the Living Planet Report says.

"The report shows that continuing of the current consumption trends would lead us to the point of no return. 4.5 Earths would be required to support a global population living like an average resident of the of the US," said Jim Leape, head of the WWF International.

The top 10 countries with the biggest Ecological Footprint per person are the United Arab Emirates – where people use the equivalent of 6 planets in terms of resource consumption, Qatar (5.9), Denmark (4.6), Belgium (4.5), United States (4.5), Estonia (4.4), Canada (3.9), Australia (3.8), Kuwait (3.5), and Ireland (3.5). The EU average is 2, while the figure for the UK is 2.75. Bulgaria is below the EU average with 1.8.

The 31 OECD countries, which include the world's richest economies, account for nearly 40% of the global footprint. While there are twice as many people living in BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – as there are in OECD countries, the report shows the current rate of per-person footprint of the BRIC countries puts them on a trajectory to overtake the OECD bloc if they follow same development path.

"Countries that maintain high levels of resource dependence are putting their own economies at risk. Those countries that are able to provide the highest quality of life on the lowest amount of ecological demand will not only serve the global interest, they will be the leaders in a resource-constrained world," said Mathis Wackernagel, President of the Global Footprint Network.

New analysis in the report also shows that the steepest decline in biodiversity falls in low-income countries, with a nearly 60 per cent decline in less than 40 years.

The Report outlines solutions needed to ensure the Earth can sustain a global population projected to pass nine billion in 2050, and points to choices in diet and energy consumption as critical to reducing footprint, as well as improved efforts to value and invest in our natural capital.

"The challenge posed by the Living Planet Report is clear. Somehow we need to find a way to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly prosperous population within the resources of this one planet. All of us have to find a way to make better choices in what we consume and how we produce and use energy," said Leape.

The global Living Planet Index shows a decrease of biological species by 30% since 1970, with the tropics hardest hit showing a 60% decline in less than 40 years.

"There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions," remarked Leape.

While the report shows some promising recovery by species' populations in temperate areas, thanks in part to greater conservation efforts and improvements in pollution and waste control, tracked populations of freshwater tropical species have fallen by nearly 70% – greater than any species' decline measured on land or in oceans.

"Species are the foundation of ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems form the basis of all we have – lose them and we destroy our life support system." said Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Program Director with the Zoological Society of London.

Full text of the WWF Report is available HERE

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Tags: World Wildlife Fund, Jim Leape, EU, OECD, BRIC


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