The Weekly Report Cornerstone

   WEEK 28 July 1st to 7th 2002


   USA: June 27, 2002
   WASHINGTON - The consumption of forests, energy and land by humans is exceeding the rate at which Earth can replenish itself, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

   The study, conducted by California-based Redefining Progress, a nonprofit group concerned with environmental conservation and its economics, warned that a failure to rein in humanity's overuse of natural resources could send the planet into "ecological bankruptcy."
   Earth's resources "are like a pile of money anyone can grab while they all close their eyes, but then it's gone," said Mathis Wackernagel, lead author of the study and a program director at Redefining Progress.
   Scientists said humanity's demand for resources had soared during the past 40 years to a level where it would take the planet 1.2 years to regenerate what people remove each year. The impact by humans on the environment had inched higher since 1961 when public demand was 70 percent of the planet's regenerative capacity, the study showed.
   "If we don't live within the budget of nature, sustainability becomes futile," Wackernagel said.
   The study, which details the population's impact on the Earth with a quantitative number, measured the "ecological footprint" of human activities such as marine fishing, harvesting timber, building infrastructure and burning fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Researchers then used government data and various estimates to determine how much land would be required to meet human demand for those actions.
   For example, Wackernagel and his team found that in 1999, each person consumed an average of 5.7 acres (2.3 hectares). The global average was significantly lower than industrialized countries such as the United States and United Kingdom where 24 acres (9.6 hectares) and 13.3 acres (5.3 hectares), respectively, were consumed per person.





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Entered 2002-07-02