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Report: 'Over-Consumption' Threatening Earth

If rampant misuse of resources continues, even two planets would not sustain us

- Common Dreams staff

Humans are using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can provide, and unless fundamental changes are made in the way we produce energy, food, and if we cannot curb our consumption of other natural resources that number will continue to skyrocket, according to a new report. Released today by the the World Wildlife Fund, The Living Planet Report, warns that if humans cannot shift their behavior by 2030, even two planets will not be enough to support modern society.

High income nations -- which translates into high levels of consumption -- are doing the most damage to the planet per capita. The report names Qatar as the country with the largest ecological footprint, followed by its Gulf Arab neighbours Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Denmark and the United States made up the remaining top five, calculated by comparing the renewable resources consumed against the earth's regenerative capacity.

Though the WWF's survey follows many others as it paints a grim scenario of the cumulative pressure humankind is putting on the planet, and the consequent decline in the health of the world's forests, rivers and oceans, it also makes note of the many available solutions.

"We do have a choice," write Jim Leape, WWF International's director general. "We can create a prosperous future that pro- vides food, water and energy for the 9 or perhaps 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet in 2050."

The Living Planet Report finds:

Biodiversity continues to be lost: Populations of species continue to decline, with tropical and freshwater species experiencing the biggest declines. Learn more

• The U.S. has the fifth largest ecological footprint in terms of the amount of resources each person annually consumes. We rank only behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Denmark in the global rankings of the Ecological Footprint. Learn more

Resource scarcity is already being experienced across the globe, as 2.7 billion people around the world already are forced to cope with water scarcity during at least one month a year.

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Al-Jazeera: 'Over-consumption' threatening Earth

The survey, compiled every two years, reported an average 30 per cent decrease in biodiversity since 1970, rising to 60 per cent in the hardest-hit tropical regions.

The decline has been most rapid in lower income countries, "demonstrating how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidising the lifestyles of wealthier countries," said WWF.

The report comes ahead of June's Rio+20 gathering, the fourth major summit on sustainable development since 1972.

The WWF is urging governments to implement more efficient production systems that would reduce human demand for land, water and energy and a change in governmental policy that would measure a country's success beyond its GDP figure.

But the immediate focus must be on drastically shrinking the ecological footprint of high-income countries, particularly their carbon footprint, the WWF said.

"This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick planet, said Jonathan Baillie, conservation programme director of the Zoological Society of London, which co-produced the report along with the Global Footprint Network.

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