Living Planet Report 2004 Challenges us to Reverse Global Trends
Living Planet Report
At a special event in the 'Palais des Nations' of Geneva, Switzerland,
today released its fifth Living Planet Report using scientific analysis
provided by Global Footprint Network. Using the Ecological Footprint,
a measure of human demand on the planet's ecological assets, the Living
Planet Report 2004 offers important information for reversing current trends.
The report confirms that ecological overshoot has become a reality:
humanity is now consuming over 20 percent more natural resources than the
Earth can produce, causing rapid declines in wild animal populations.
is possible to exceed ecological limits for a time,
but this 'deficit spending' leads to the destruction
of ecological assets on which our economy depends.
The consequences have included depleted groundwater, collapsing fisheries,
CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, and deforestation.
Humanity's Ecological Footprint, 1961-2001
Report statistics reinforce the need to address growing social discrepancies
in order to keep the planet livable for all. "One of the most important findings,"
says Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, a lead researcher of the report and executive
director of Global Footprint Network, "is that from 1991 to 2001, essentially
the ten years after the United Nations Rio conference in 1992, the Footprint
in the 27 wealthiest countries increased by 8 per cent per person, while in
the middle and low income countries, it shrank by 8 per cent per person.
This is exactly the opposite of what Rio promised."
The 2004 report includes more sophisticated data sets, more detailed time trends,
and more robust results than years past. Data provided by Global Footprint
Network show that humanity's Ecological Footprint grew by 150 percent between 1961
and 2000, leading to an ecological overshoot starting in the 1980s. During the
same time period, the report's Living Planet Index shows a 40 percent decline
in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species populations. Evidence suggests
that as humanity's Footprint grows, the world's wild populations shrink.
Living Planet Index, 1970-2000
By identifying the biggest impacts, the report also points to the biggest
opportunities for change. For example, energy leads as the fastest growing
component of global Ecological Footprint with a 180 percent increase since
1971. Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, underscores that,
"high amounts of materials and energy are not necessary to support a
comfortable standard of living. We call on business leaders, governments,
and civil society to promote the existing technologies and tools, and
to develop innovative models, that will meet the challenges of living
within the capacity of one planet."
The report's main objective: to begin reversing the trends. Highlights
include an examination of four possible paths to the future and options
for reducing human dependence on the planet's resources. The Living
Planet Report 2004 exemplifies the relevance of the Ecological Footprint
tool for decision-makers and defines humanity's challenge for the
21st century: learning to live within the means of one planet.
Download the Report
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