The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released Living Planet Report 2004—the current edition of an annual index that tracks global species abundance and human use of natural resources. This edition concludes that people are consuming the earth’s natural resources 20% faster than nature can renew them.
We are spending nature’s capital much faster than it can be regenerated. Collectively, we are bequeathing to our children the most dangerous budget deficit of all, an ecological debt of growing proportions.—Richard Mott, WWF Vice President for International Policy
Energy consumption, particularly in the U.S. but also in western Europe, accounts for much of the imbalance. The energy component of the footprint, dominated by use of non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, increased nearly 700% in the 40-year period surveyed, from 1961 to 2001. The image below is from the report, and maps the global distribution of energy intensity. (Click to enlarge.)
Note also the intensity of China and, to a lesser extent, India.
The report makes a number of recommendations for balancing the ecological budget before it is too late, including:
Switching to renewable and non-polluting alternative energies to reduce global warming
Encouraging more public transportation
Creating more comprehensive recycling and waste reduction programs
Implementing building and product design innovations that can lead to much greater energy efficiencies than at present
You can download the full report from the link at top.