World Goes Into Eco-Debt As Resources Vanish

The world goes into “ecological debt” today with the planet’s resouces already used up for the year.

And figures show that as early as January 4 this year every Briton had generated more carbon emissions than someone in Tanzania will do until Christmas.

The global recession has only marginally slowed the trend of over-consuming, said a New Economics Foundation (NEF) report.

The day on which we have used up our annual “budget” of natural resources has arrived only a day later than last year.

The report said the overall trend over the past two decades had been for the world to go into the red in terms of consuming natural resources earlier and earlier each year.

The growing “ecological footprint” is a measure of how much land, forests and seas are used up to produce our food, energy, clothes and other goods.

The footprint also includes resources used up to absorb waste products such as carbon dioxide.

In 1995, ecological debt day fell on November 25, the NEF said.

The difference in consumption between rich and poor countries is stark, according to the foundation.

And the overuse of the world’s resources is contributing to other problems, including climate change and vulnerability of food supplies, the report said.

The NEF warned there are “boomerang” trades in a wide array of goods, which leads to export and import of similar products across the world, wasting resources on transport.

For example, the UK exports 5,000 tonnes of toilet paper from the UK to Germany and imports 4,000 tonnes of loo roll back.

We import 22,000 tonnes of potatoes from Egypt and send 27,000 tonnes the other way.

Andrew Simms, NEF policy director and co-author of the report, said: “Debt-fuelled over-consumption not only brought the financial system to the edge of collapse, it is pushing many of our natural life-support systems towards a precipice.

“Politicians tell us to get back to business as usual, but if we bankrupt critical ecosystems no amount of government spending will bring them back.”

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