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Living Planet Report 2008

The lush Sumatran forest is home to some of the world’s rarest species

Note: the 2014 Living Planet Report can be found here

Counting the cost of our ecological debt

WWF’s Living Planet Report 2008, our bi-annual state-of-the-earth survey, offers a detailed check-up on the health of the planet and some timely suggestions for action

We all know about the economic credit crunch – it’s what happens when we borrow more money than we can pay back. But the Living Planet Report 2008 warns that a similar crisis is looming in the natural world – you might call it the ecological credit crunch – and the consequences could be even more catastrophic if we don’t make changes now.

The report makes it clear why we must address our ecological debt – the degree to which people are using more of the planet’s resources than it can sustain. Already we’re using 30% too many resources, and by the early 2030s it’s reckoned we’d need the equivalent of two planets to meet our seemingly insatiable consumption.

Alarmingly, while our own demands on the Earth have escalated enormously in recent decades – for food, water, land and energy – the planet’s biodiversity has been in dramatic decline.

  • Over the past 35 years alone, the Earth’s wildlife populations have declined by one third.
  • 23% of all mammal species are currently threatened with extinction.

And climate change is only deepening our ecological debt.

We need to take action now – before Mother Nature sends round the bailiffs to evict us.

Turning the tide

The good news is that we still have time, and the ability, to halt the ecological credit crunch and prevent irreversible environmental recession.

The report outlines a number of different solutions – all of which must be developed simultaneously – including: increased energy efficiency; the introduction of renewable fuels; the capture and storage of carbon emissions from fossil fuel power stations – en route to phasing out fossil fuels (currently almost 45% of the global footprint); reducing unnecessary transportation; rehabilitating degraded land for agriculture; and more efficient and sustainable use of water and other resources.

To achieve these goals, we need:

  • strong leadership
  • a unified global response
  • a sense of urgency – the longer we delay, the harder change will be.

WWF is at the heart of efforts to create the solutions we urgently need.

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The Living Planet Report, which is published every two years, is produced with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.

See the 2010 Living Planet Report

See the latest Living Planet Report

Living Planet Report 2008


Living Planet Report 2008


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