The Living Planet Report is one of the things that inspired this blog in the first place. Produced every two years by WWF and the Footprint Network, it aims to show the state of the world’s biodiversity and how well we are living within the planet’s biocapacity. If you’ve never read it, take a look. It is well presented, simple to understand, and striking. You can read the whole thing here, or a summary.
Here’s the headline graph. It shows the earth’s biocapacity as the horizontal line – the sum total of the planet’s ecological services (timber, fish, land, water, carbon absorption, etc). Our demand on the earth’s biocapacity is the orange line. For around 40 years, we have been using more of the earth’s natural resources than can be replenished in any given year.
You can use more than the earth’s capacity, but you push that horizontal line lower when you do – like living off your capital rather than your income, or eating your chickens rather than their eggs.
So far there are a billion of us living in developed, consumer societies. If we have overshot the earth’s capacity to deliver that lifestyle for one billion, where will the resources come from for the other six? Either the world must remain unequal, or we need to reduce our consumption and make the consumer vision of wealth history.