According to a report recently issued by the international environmental nonprofit World Wildlife Fund (WWF), humanity’s demands are exceeding the planet’s capacity to sustain us. The group predicts the collapse of large-scale ecosystems around the world within a few decades if human consumption is not put in check.
According to the group’s biannual Living Planet Report, the natural world is being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history." One indicator the report cites is that terrestrial species have declined 31 percent between 1970 and 2003 as a result of resources being consumed faster than the planet can replace them. WWF warns that if human consumption continues at current rates, two planets will be needed to meet global demand by 2050.
While the report finds that the U.S., the United Arab Emirates and Finland are the nations leaving the largest ecological footprints, it also points out that all developed countries are contributing much more significantly to the consumption of natural resources than those that are still developing. The report’s authors fear that increased consumption in the developing world could be enough to put the planet over an ecological tipping point.
"It is time to make some vital choices to enable people to enjoy a one-planet lifestyle," says Paul King, WWF’s director of campaigns. "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."