Humanity at risk on Earth due to unsustainable development

November 14th, 2007 - 2:52 am ICT by admin  
The 550-page document has said that the average human ecological footprint of 21.9 hectares per person is way beyond the Earth’s biological capacity of just 15.7 hectares per person.

The average footprint of 21.9 hectares per person includes the areas required to produce the resources we use, as well as the areas needed to process our waste.

“About half of the footprint is accounted for by the areas that are required to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions. The other half is the land which produces our food, the forests which produce our timber, the oceans and rivers which produce our fish,” said Neville Ash of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The report reviewed the state of Earth’s natural resources, from the atmosphere and water, to land surfaces and biodiversity.

Study authors said humans were sucking the environment dry by unsustainable development, rather than using and maintaining it as a tool for the sustainable development.

They said that by 2025, 1.6 billion people would live in countries with absolute water scarcity. As of now, 440 million school days are already missed every year because of diarrhoeal diseases, they said.

While over-cultivation was making the land less productive, over-fishing was threatening the biodiversity of the oceans and its capacity to produce more fish was decreasing.

More than two million people died each year as a result of indoor and outdoor pollution, the authors said.

Ash said the inflated size of the footprint was partially the result of the growth of the human population.

The population is currently estimated at 6.7 billion people, and is expected to reach eight to 10 billion by 2050.

But the main driver of the size of the footprint was our unsustainable consumption, he said.

“There is no doubt that we could sustain the current and projected population if we lived sustainably,” said Ash.

The report was UNEP’s latest on the state of the planet’s health, and took five years in the making, the New Scientist magazine said in a report. (ANI)

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