Living Planet Report 2008
WWF’s Living Planet Report shows looming ecological credit crunch
That is the stark warning contained in the latest edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report, the leading statement of the planet’s health. On a global scale, humans are currently exploiting the planet’s natural resources at an unsustainable rate. We are living beyond our means and must reduce our impact in order to avoid financial, ecological and societal disaster.
According to the report, Canada has the 7th largest ecological footprint on a global scale. (A country’s footprint is the sum of all the cropland, grazing land, forest and fishing grounds required to produce the food, fibre and timber it consumes while absorbing the carbon emitted when it uses energy.) If everyone on earth consumed the equivalent resources as Canadians, it would take three Earths to meet this demand!
Roughly half of Canada’s total footprint is a result of its carbon consumption, derived predominately from transportation, heating and electricity use.
The water footprint is a new addition to the Living Planet Report, a response to the growing pressure globally on our freshwater resources. Canada is ranked 12th on its per capita consumption. This is a measure not only of the water we consume directly from the tap but, more significantly, the water embedded in the products we produce and consume (e.g. 2,900 litres of water per cotton shirt and 15,500 litres per kg of beef).
WWF’s Living Planet Report has been published every two years since 1998 and has become accepted as a leading statement on the planet’s health. It describes the changing state of global biodiversity and the pressure on the planet arising from human consumption of natural resources.
It is built around two indicators:
• The Living Planet Index, which reflects the health of the planet’s ecosystems; and
• The Ecological Footprint, which shows the extent of human demand on these ecosystems and the state of the planet’s ability to provide biological goods and services.
These measures are tracked over several decades to reveal past trends and provide insight into what might lie ahead.
Reducing Canada’s ecological footprint will require urgent action from government and industry to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and conserve our freshwater resources. You too can do your part by joining the Living Planet Community!