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 user 2006-10-11 at 11:13:00 am Views: 50
  • #16633

    Planet enters ‘ecological debt’
    Rising consumption of natural resources means that humans began “eating the planet” on 9 October 2006 , a study suggests.
    date symbolised the day of the year when people’s demands exceeded the
    Earth’s ability to supply resources and absorb the demands placed upon
    it.The figures’ authors said the world first “ecological debt day” fell
    on 19 December 1987, but economic growth had seen it fall earlier each
    year.The data was produced by a US-based think-tank, Global Footprint
    Network.The New Economics Foundation (Nef), a UK think-tank that helped
    compile the report, had published a study that said Britain’s
    “ecological debt day” in 2006 fell on 16 April.The authors said this
    year’s global ecological debt day meant that it would take the Earth 15
    months to regenerate what was consumed this year.

    1987 – 19 December
    1990 – 7 December
    1995 – 21 November
    2000 – 1 November
    2005 – 11 October
    2006 – 9 October

    living so far beyond our environmental means and running up ecological
    debts means we make two mistakes,” said Andrew Simms, Nef’s policy
    director.”First, we deny millions globally who already lack access to
    sufficient land, food and clean water the chance to meet their needs.
    Secondly, we put the planet’s life support mechanisms in peril,” he

    The findings are based on the concept
    of “ecological footprints”, a system of measuring how much land and
    water a human population needs to produce the resources it consumes and
    absorb the resulting waste.Global Footprint Network’s executive
    director, Mathis Wackernagel, said humanity was living off its
    “ecological credit card” and was “liquidating the planet’s natural
    resources”.”While this can be done for a short while, overshoot
    ultimately leads to the depletion of resources, such as forests, oceans
    and agricultural land, upon which our economy depends,” Mr Wackernagel
    said.Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International
    Political Economy (Ecipe), a Brussels-based think tank, said he
    applauded the authors on their innovative way of focusing attention to
    the issue of resource depletion.But he added he found the concept of
    ecological debt to be “quite ludicrous”.”When it comes to using
    footprints as a way to follow the micro effects of various economic
    behaviours on the environment, it can be quite good,” Mr Erixon
    said.”But the way they are collecting and assessing information is
    wrong. We don’t really get any serious information out of this.”He also
    questioned the use of the term “debt”: “A debt is where you have
    over-savings in one area of the economy, and under-savings in
    another.”Then you have a transfer of savings from one actor to another
    in the form of a loan. But who are we indebted to?” Mr Erixon
    asked.”Perhaps ‘ecological exuberance’ is better than ecological
    debt.”He added that history had shown that technological advances had
    led to more efficient uses of natural resources, and had sustained
    economic growth