Human beings are demanding more of the Earth than it cancope with, according to new research?and we?ve had 50% moreimpact on it in just the last 40 years. One of theresearchers, Mathis Wackernagel of Oakland, California,claims that by 1961, we were using 70% of the capacity ofthe global biosphere. By 1999, that had risen to 120% of theEarth’s productive capacity. In other words, we were using upresources faster than they could be replaced. The researchteam believes that ?human activities have exceeded thebiosphere?s capacity since the 1980s.?
According to their report, “This 20% overshoot [since 1999]means that it would require 1.2 Earths, or one Earth for 1.2years, to regenerate what humanity used in 1999.? If 12% ofthe Earth’s productive area had been set aside to safeguardother species, something many environmentalists want, wewould have exceeded the planet’s capacity a decade earlier,in the early 1970s.
We clearly need to lower the intensity of human activitiesso the Earth will have a chance to catch up and regenerate.But scientists don?t think we?ll have to suffer in order forthis to happen. Professor Norman Myers, of Oxford in theU.K., says, “The overshoot will continue to increase if wedo nothing, because of rising population and rising livingstandards. But we can solve this without austerity or hairshirts, by using technology and avoiding waste.”
Not all researchers buy the idea that we?re using up theEarth?s resources too quickly. Julian Morris, of the U.K.?sInstitute of Economic Affairs, says, “The claim that we haveovershot the biosphere’s regenerative capacity is a fictionbased on inappropriate assumptions and poor data.?
Alas, Morris? statement has the familiar ring of thosestatements by government officials claiming there was nosuch thing as global warming.
We can fix global warming without a lot of pain. To learnhow, read ?The Coming Global Superstorm,? now only $9.95 fora hardcover signed by Whitley Strieber,click here.
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