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Nature_and_Environment.58

Sustainable Planetary Management

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{Nature_and_Environment.58.14}: Johnny Asia {johnnyasia} Tue, 24 Oct 2006 09:56:02 CDT (109 lines)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6077798.stm

Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK

Global ecosystems 'face collapse'


Greater demand for land is threatening species' long-term survival

Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale
ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group
WWF has warned.

The group's biannual Living Planet Report said the natural world was
being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history".

Terrestrial species had declined by 31% between 1970-2003, the
findings showed.

It warned that if demand continued at the current rate, two planets
would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.

The biodiversity loss was a result of resources being consumed faster
than the planet could replace them, the authors said.

They added that if the world's population shared the UK's lifestyle,
three planets would be needed to support their needs.


Ecological footprints


The nations that were shown to have the largest "ecological
footprints" were the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Finland.

Paul King, WWF director of campaigns, said the world was running up a
"serious ecological debt".

"It is time to make some vital choices to enable people to enjoy a one
planet lifestyle," he said.

See the world's ecological footprints
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6077798.stm#map

"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."

The report, compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the
Global Footprint Network, is based on data from two indicators:

    * Living Planet Index - assesses the health of the planet's ecosystems
    * Ecological Footprint - measures human demand on the natural world

The Living Planet Index tracked the population of 1,313 vertebrate
species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals from around
the world.

It found that these species had declined by about 30% since 1970,
suggesting that natural ecosystems were being degraded at an
unprecedented rate.

The Ecological Footprint measured the amount of biologically
productive land and water to meet the demand for food, timber,
shelter, and absorb the pollution from human activity.

The report concluded that the global footprint exceeded the earth's
biocapacity by 25% in 2003, which meant that the Earth could no longer
keep up with the demands being placed upon it.

The findings echo a study published earlier this month that said the
world went into "ecological debt" on 9 October this year.

The study by UK-based think-tank New Economics Foundation (Nef) was
based on the Ecological Footprint data compiled by the Global
Footprint Network, which also provided the figures for this latest
report from the WWF.

'Large-scale collapse'

One of the report's editors, Jonathan Loh from the Zoological Society
of London, said: "[It] is a stark indication of the rapid and ongoing
loss of biodiversity worldwide.

"Populations of species in terrestrial, marine and freshwater
ecosystems have declined by more than 30% since 1970," he added.

"In the tropics the declines are even more dramatic, as natural
resources are being intensively exploited for human use."

The report outlined five scenarios based on the data from the two
indicators, ranging from "business as usual" to "transition to a
sustainable society".

Under the "business as usual" scenario, the authors projected that to
meet the demand for resources in 2050 would be twice as much as what
the Earth could provide.

They warned: "At this level of ecological deficit, exhaustion of
ecological assets and large-scale ecosystem collapse become
increasingly likely."

To deliver a shift towards a "sustainable society" scenario would
require "significant action now" on issues such as energy generation,
transport and housing.

The latest Living Planet Report is the sixth in a series of
publications which began in 1998.

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