As the century begins, natural resources are under increasing pressure, threatening public health and development. Water shortages, soil exhaustion, loss of forests, air and water pollution, and degradation of coastlines afflict many areas. As the world’s population grows, improving living standards without destroying the environment is a global challenge. Most developed economies currently consume resources much faster than they can regenerate. Most developing countries with rapid population growth face the urgent need to improve living standards. As we humans exploit nature to meet present needs, are we destroying resources needed for the future?
Individuals living in developed countries have, in general, a much bigger ecological footprint than those living in the developing world. The ecological footprint is a standardised measure of how much productive land and water is needed to produce the resources that are consumed, and to absorb the wastes produced by a person or group of people.
Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.
How do we solve the delicate problem of population growth and
environmental limitations? This book
is attempting to conclude its solution with some policy reflections, the policy
aimed at overall development should certainly include efforts to control
population and environmental pollution.
Are we consuming our planet?
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