In the Red for the Rest of 2013: Humanity’s Demands Exceed Earth’s Carrying Capacity
Based on Ecological Footprint data – measuring how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what – Earth Overshoot Day is an initiative of WWF’s partner, the Global Footprint Network, to raise awareness and inspire action around ecological “overspending”.
Climate change is a major impact of overshoot, as using fossil fuels causes harmful emissions of carbon dioxide that the planet simply cannot absorb. Forests are shrinking, fish stocks are waning, land is getting degraded, freshwater resources are dwindling, and biological diversity is depleting.
“Nature is the basis of our wellbeing and our prosperity – but we are using up way too much of the Earth's finite resources. WWF's Living Planet Report shows clearly that humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity to sustain us – simply put, we are asking for more than we have available,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.
In 1961, the year WWF was established, humanity was using two thirds of the Earth’s available natural resources and most countries had ecological reserves – meaning our footprint was lighter and more sustainable.
By taking action now we can reverse the trend.
Switching to clean, renewable, abundant energy sources like sun and wind will slash dirty emissions that strain our oceans and forests, and pollute our air. Choosing sustainable goods like seafood labelled with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue tick, and wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) helps ensure products come from well managed sources.
“More than 50 per cent of humanity's Ecological Footprint is composed of our carbon footprint, especially from the burning of fossil fuels. WWF is currently running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, pressing for much greater investment in renewable energies.
“For a clean and healthy future for our children, we must preserve the natural capital that is left – and be much better stewards of the planet we call home,” said Leape.
In Malaysia, between 1971 and 2007, the country has lost almost 92% of its fishery resources led by overfishing to satiate our growing demand. At 55kg per capita, Malaysians are one of the highest consumers of seafood in Asia, so much so that in 2048, which is the predicted doomsday for global fisheries, Malaysians would require almost double of what our oceans are producing today. The inevitable crash of the fisheries could potentially cripple the nation’s economy and jeopardize the food security and livelihoods of Malaysians.
“WWF-Malaysia is working with government agencies, businesses, local communities and consumers to reverse the decline in fish stocks and achieve sustainable fisheries management. Campaigns like 'Save Our Seafood 2.0' introduced a guide which helps consumers make ocean-friendly decisions when it comes to their seafood. To help shift our fisheries toward this direction, consumers are encouraged to look for MSC- or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified products,” said WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.
Dr Dionysius also said that based on Malaysia’s National Timber Industry Policy 2009-2020 and the Ministry of Plantations and Industrial Commodities (MPIC), timber export is expected to double by 2020. To achieve this target, 375,000 hectares of forest plantation would need to be produced by 2020 at the rate of 25,000 hectares per year.
The current demand for timber products far exceeds it supply. This increase in demand will inevitably put pressure on the remaining natural forest, resulting in it being unsustainably harvested, The demand will also lead to unsustainable initiatives, primarily those of converting remaining natural forests to fast-growing timber plantations, which will have serious effect on the habitats of terrestrial plant and animal species, he added.
“The biodiversity of natural forest is essential for the continued health and functioning of forest ecosystems, and the many ecosystem services it provides, including climate regulation, water purification, pollination and nutrient cycling. Sustainable forest management is essential in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems and important for the well-being of forest dependent people,” he said.
“We need to change our consumption patterns by reducing unnecessary use of natural resources, and also making informed choices for sustainably produced products,” Dr Dionysius added.
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Notes to editor:
- WWF is now running a global campaign, “Seize Your Power”, encouraging funding to be channelled into renewable energy worldwide. More here
- WWF’s Living Planet Report is published in partnership with the Global Footprint Network every two years. The next edition is due in September 2014. More here
- Join the Earth Overshoot Day conversation with WWF on Twitter and Facebook.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources
About Global Footprint Network
The Global Footprint Network is an international sustainability think tank established to enable a sustainable future where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of one planet. An essential step in creating a one-planet future is measuring human impact, or footprint, on the Earth – so we can make more informed choices. www.footprintnetwork.org
Gemma Parkes, WWF International Manager, Executive Communications & Media
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Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
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