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A new report titled “Living Planet 2012,” which has just been released in Geneva by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, the Global Footprint Network and the European Space Agency provides a grim analysis on the health of our planet and the impact of human activity. The report found that humans are using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide and at this growth rate we will need need two Earths to support our lifestyles by 2030.
Key findings in the report include:
Loss of Biodiversity: The world’s biodiversity is down 30 percent since the 1970s. Populations of species continue to decline, with tropical and freshwater species experiencing the biggest declines.
Our Ecological Footprint: The U.S. has the fifth largest ecological footprint per person in the world. We rank only behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Denmark in the global rankings of the Ecological Footprint.
Resource Scarcity: This 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.
What Can You Do?
According to the WWF, we do have a choice. We can create a prosperous future that provides food, water and energy for the 9 or perhaps 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet in 2050. The report advises that people need to think about what we buy and where we buy it. They recommend food and other consumer goods produced with minimal or no negative impact on the environment and society.
When it comes to food specifically, the WWF recommends reducing food waste and lowering meat and dairy consumption in high income countries. This dietary shift can help everyone on the planet enjoy healthy levels of protein in their diets, create more space for nature, and expand bioenergy without creating food shortages.
Other recommended solutions include putting an economic value on natural capital, and creating legal and policy frameworks that manage equitable access to food, water and energy.
“This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick planet,” said Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Program Director with the Zoological Society of London in a press release. “Ignoring this diagnosis will have major implications for humanity. We can restore the planet’s health, but only through addressing the root causes, population growth and over-consumption.”
The report was launched from space by astronaut André Kuipers in the International Space Station. According to him “while there are unsustainable pressures on the planet, we have the ability to save our home, not only for our benefit, but, above all, for generations to come.”
Watch his message to the planet below: