January 22, 2012

Global Per-Capita Ecological Footprint Facts

Each human's fair share of global resources is about 4.7 acres per person.
Canadians currently use almost 24 acres each.
I found the information for today's post on a website full of reasons why we should be adopting low consumption, sustainable lifestyles planet-wide and immediately.

World Centric's mission is "to reduce economic injustice and environmental degradation through education, community networks, and sustainable enterprises".

The state of the world that the facts represent can be a bit of a bummer to consider - we are depleting most every resource required by the ever-expanding consumer machine.

Looking at it from a more optimistic angle, the state of things is such that each of our individual efforts toward real sustainability are much more powerful and important.

There is hope, and in reducing our consumption and living more gently on the Earth, we will allow it to recover and replenish so we can live in harmony with it in perpetuity. These efforts support the advancement of human rights, environmental protection, and the shift toward sustainable ways of living.

Global Eco-Footprint Facts

  • The planet's biological productive capacity (biocapacity) is approximately 1.9 hectares (4.7 acres) per person. Globally, we use up to 2.2 hectares per person. Thus, we are living beyond the planet's biocapacity to sustain us by 15%, a deficit of 0.3 hectares (1 acre) per person. This deficit is apparent, as natural ecosystems around us fail one by one - forests, ocean fisheries, coral reefs, rivers, soil, water, global warming etc.

  •  The planet's biocapacity is dependent on the global population and rate of consumption. High consumption lifestyles deplete the planet's carrying capacity. Estimates indicate that, if global population trends continue, the ecological footprint available to each person would be reduced to 1.5 hectares per person, by 2050. 

  • If consumption rates as high as the western countries are adopted by the majority of humanity, we would need 4 to 5 more Earths.

  • If everyone on the planet was to live like the average American, we would need 5 planets to sustain everyone. At a footprint of 10 hectares per person, our planet's biocapacity would only be able support about 1.2 billion people - far less than the 7 billion we currently have. 

  • On the other end of the spectrum, if everyone lived like those residing in Bangladesh, where the average footprint is only 0.5 hectares, then the earth could support roughly 22 billion people.

For more information, and to see where your country ranks in Per Capita Eco-Footprint, see the World Centric website.

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