Draining of Earth’s Resources

30 10 2008

A few days ago the Star, a local newspaper ran an article which I found quite distressing. The WWF had released a report which said that if the humankind does not reduce it’s current consumption trends, we would soon deplete the resources of this planet and by the year 2035 we would essentially need another one of these . . .

Mother Earth

Mother Earth

. . . to sustain our obsession. I hope some of you have one handy because I surely don’t have a spare in my backyard. The humankind has never been one to learn from it’s mistakes or history. Way back (for some of my readers) in the 80’s there was a call to find ways to reduce or control our use of fossil fuels for fear it would one day run out. But did we heed the warning? No, we carried on demanding more private transport, more powerful ones at that. Public transport was uncool. Then we come to today, 25 years down the road and we realise that wow. . . oil reserves are actually diminishing and worst . . . all that burning of this once abundant source of energy has resulted in irreversible damage to the earth and it’s ecology. That even if this resource was indeed inexhautible, we could not go on using it without further damaging our only home.

This then is the article I read. Have a read and i shall continue from where I left off.

WWF says reckless consumption threatens the planet

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Earth’s natural resources are being depleted so quickly that “two planets” would be required to sustain current lifestyles within a generation, the conservation group WWF said on Wednesday.

The Swiss-based WWF, also known as the World Wildlife Fund, said in its latest Living Planet Report that more than three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries whose consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.

Its Living Planet Report concluded that reckless consumption of “natural capital” was endangering the world’s future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy.

“If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles,” said WWF International Director-General James Leape.

Jonathan Loh of the Zoological Society of London said the dramatic ecological losses from pollution, deforestation, over-fishing and land conversion were having serious impacts.

“We are acting ecologically in the same way as financial institutions have been behaving economically — seeking immediate gratification without due regard for the consequences,” Loh said in a statement accompanying the report.

“The consequences of a global ecological crisis are even graver than the current economic meltdown,” he said.

The report said the world’s global environmental “footprint” or depletion rate now exceeds the planet’s capacity to regenerate by 30 percent. On a per-country basis, the United States and China have the largest footprints, the WWF said.

The United States and Australia rank among the five countries with the largest footprints per person, along with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Denmark.

The lowest five are Bangladesh, Congo, Haiti, Afghanistan and Malawi, WWF said. Regionally, only non-EU Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean remain within their “biocapacity”.

Emissions from fossil fuels — which would be targeted under a successor to the Kyoto climate change accord — were among the top culprits cited by WWF for the big demands on the planet.

The WWF’s Leape said world leaders needed to put ecological concerns at the top of their agenda and ensure the environment is factored into all decisions about consumption, development, trade, agriculture and fisheries management.

“If humanity has the will, it has the ways to live within the means of the planet, but we must recognise that the ecological credit crunch will require even bolder action than that now being mustered for the financial crisis,” Leape said.

By now I am guessing that none of the 6 billion people I share this planet with has a clue as to where we are going to find another planet like the one we currently have. So are we going to learn how to slow down our reckless consumptionof it’s resources? Sure we can recycle but that is not the answer. We cannot yet recycle 100% of the things we consume. As it stands, Malaysia alone wastes some 40% of it’s treated water. Public transport has taken a back seat (literally) since 1984 as part of  Government’s policy of promoting the then fledgling national car industry. Now we each have our own cars but go nowhere for at least 2 hours of the day, everyday!

Our obsession with technological superiority even our personal computing needs have led to one of the most destructive and reckless use of our resources. Computers now become obsolete in a matter of months. Programs written today cannot be run on computers any more than 2 years old. Mobile phones are replaced when they go out of style or replaced by a new model, not when they malfunction. Automobiles hardly serve out 5 years with their first owner before being traded in for a new one.

A friend of mine once said,”Don’t knock consumerism, it’s what makes the world go around and what drives the economy.” Sure, I do not deny this. In fact, consumerism, free market trade has led to competition and advancement of our knowledge, our sciences, our medicine and our technology. But somehwere along the line we have gone overboard. At least those of us who claim to be from developing or developed countries.

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my younger friends during lunch today in which I brought up this topic.One of them pointed out the futility of even trying to curb our consumption, saying that we are each but one person in this big huge world. How much would we actually contribute to the effort? I have no answer myself and I cannot admit to being the most ecologically friendly person ( I myself consume litres of petrol a day just getting to and from my place of work) but I am willing to try. Because the only other option is not an option I wish to pursue or see come to pass. So help me pass on the message and save the only home we have. And you know what, like any good mother who is a little sick, all we have to do is unburden her and she will cure herself in due time. Gaia or Mother Earth has the capacity to do the same.

Just after I first posted this message, I read the following on Yahoo. Maybe the current financial meltdown is a good thing after all. Read that Yahoo article here.

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