The 2012 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report warns that our way of life is way beyond the Earth’s capability to restore itself, that is, it is unsustainable. It says in order to have a future, we need to reduce waste, introduce smarter water management techniques and adopt renewable energy such solar and wind power.
The report was produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint Network. It was launched earlier this week from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut André Kuipers.
“We only have one Earth. From up here I can see humanity’s footprint, including forest fires, air pollution and erosion – challenges which are reflected in this edition of the Living Planet Report,” said Kuipers. “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,” he said.
“This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick planet,” said Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programme Director with the Zoological Society of London. “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 says that the countries with the biggest ecological footprint are Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, United States of America, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Ireland. Poorer countries have the smallest eco-footprints but it’s there where diversity is more rapidly declining, which means that the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier countries.
The Living Planet Report presents a number of solutions to reverse this alarming situation and bring the Ecological Footprint, the report’s key indicator, down to within planetary limits. It lists 16 priority actions, including improved consumption patterns, putting an economic value on natural capital, and creating legal and policy frameworks that manage equitable access to food, water and energy.
The report has been launched on the eve of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Summit future. The event provides an opportunity for government, cities and businesses to reinforce their commitment to the environment.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.