Does anyone have a spare Earth? Or two — or three? If so, could you please speak up, because humanity is going to need two Earth’s worth of resources by 2030.
The Ecological Footprint tracks the area of biologically productive land and water required to provide the renewable resources people use, and includes the space needed for infrastructure and vegetation to absorb waste carbon dioxide (CO2). It shows an alarming and consistent trend: one of continuous growth.
In 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, the Footprint exceeded the Earth’s biocapacity — the area actually available to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 — by 50 per cent.
Overall, humanity’s Ecological Footprint has doubled since 1966. …
The Ecological Footprint exceeded the earth’s biocapacity by 50 per cent – meaning it takes 1.5 years for the Earth to produce the resources humanity consumes in a single year.
Humanity used the equivalent of 1.5 planets in 2007 to support its activities. If everyone in the world lived like an average resident of the United States or the United Arab Emirates, then a biocapacity equivalent to more than 4.5 Earths would be required to keep up with humanity’s consumption and CO2 emissions. By 2030 humanity will need the capacity of 2 Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption, and just over 2.8 planets each year by 2050.
I guess this must be fairly boring or unimportant news, because I haven’t seen any coverage at all in the (mostly Western) media that I keep an eye on. It was a brief mention on Slashdot that caught my eye, and now Google tells me that the only significant coverage seems to be in India (e.g. here, here, here, here). Perhaps the rest of the world will pick it up eventually.
It’s a pretty simple message really. We can’t have infinite growth in a finite system. The end of growth is clearly in sight. We are overreaching ourselves, and there will be consequences. Those that survive the unwinding of growth in good shape will be those that start planning for it now.