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Supporting World Population at U.S. Consumption Rates Would Require Five Earths

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: ecology, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) It would take more than five Earths to be able to sustain the world population if everyone consumed resources at the same rate as the United States, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

NEF stated that the world reached "ecological overdraft" for 2007 on October 6 -- in other words, more resources were consumed between January 1 and October 6 than the planet can replenish in one year. NEF refers to this date as Ecological Debt Day.

Ecological Debt Day came on October 9 in 2006 and October 12 in 2005. According to NEF, Ecological Debt Day has been earlier every year since ecological overdraft began in the 1980s.

NEF noted that the gulf between consumption rates in the First and Third Worlds has also widened. For the United States' consumption rates to be sustainable if mimicked by the entire human population, NEF says, it would take 5.3 Earths. At the consumption rate of France or the United Kingdom, it would take 3.1. The numbers for other nations include 3.0 for Spain, 2.5 for Germany and 2.4 for Japan.

The foundation pointed out that if every nation on the planet had the per capita consumption rate of China, however, it would only take 0.9 planets to sustain consumption rates. According to an NEF report, "Chinadependence," much of China's ecological impact is actually attributable the First World, due to the outsourcing of production to that country.

"As China is increasingly attacked because of its rising pollution levels, people overlook two important issues," said NEF Director Andrew Simms. "First, per person, China's greenhouse gas emissions are a fraction of those in Europe and the United States."

"Second, a closer look at trade flows reveals that a large share of China's rising emissions is due to the dependence of the rest of the world on exports from China. Because of the way that data on carbon emissions gets collected at the international level, this has the effect of 'carbon laundering' economies like those of Britain and the U.S."
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