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It is agreed upon by most scientists that the earth, and its natural resources, are being depleted at an alarming rate. But how serious is it?
Is there any basis for raising this alarm? Yes, there is, says the Global Footprint Network, an international nonprofit that calculates how humanity is managing ― or failing to handle ― the world’s resources and other natural endowments. In fact, gloomy reports show that we have, in the first seven months of 2018, consumed a year’s worth of resources, such as water and minerals, in producing goods like cars, cotton and the clothes we wear! These statistics come from the readings given by the Earth Overshoot Day, taken annually since 1969.
So because of our ballooning rates of exploitation, the earth is hemorrhaging at alarming levels, and we are at best turning a blind eye or paying lip service to the problem.
One analyst puts the present state of things in some perspective: ‘At the moment, we’re able to live in this ecological debt by using up the Earth’s future resources to operate our economies in the present ― in other words, we’re running a Ponzi scheme with our planet’ states Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of Global Footprint Network.
Already the tell-tale signs are there. They manifest in the form of unexplained natural disasters, rampant deforestation, acute freshwater shortages among others. The chief culprits in this ever-increasing debacle are the nations in the developed world. Take the US as an example. If the world lived at the same rate at which the U.S population subsisted, we would require over five more planets to sustain consumption levels.
At present, humanity is using up nature 1.7 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate or reproduce. In other words, our world relies on 1.7 planets worth of resources.
The blame lies less on the individual and more with an entrenched systemic structure that chews up resources creates products using those resources, spews them out and then makes them so that they are not sustainable during actual usage. Our global sync also does not adequately deal with the issue of the impact of waste on our environment.
The power to save mother earth or to put the last nail in her coffin lies firmly in our hands. The core of the solution lies in humanity finding the will( political and otherwise) in moving away from a depletion economy predicated on excessive consumption and the rising use of fossil fuels to practicing economic models based on sustainable living and the use of renewable resources.
And the earlier we begin this transition, the better, else we might have to make outer space our new home (and not import and practice the same destructive tendencies when we get there!)