Attention US – we’re running an ecological deficit
As if our climate problems weren’t enough, a new report shed light on a new issue we have to take care ASAP. According to State of the States: A New Perspective on the Wealth of Our Nation report, our country is now running an ecological deficit since last Tuesday. In other words, we have already used the amount of renewable natural resources of the entire year in, yeah, just one semester.
It isn’t surprising to have yet another evidence that we are a big resource overspender but it’s troubling that such evidence keeps piling up. This time, the report comes from the Global Footprint Network and Earth Economics, two nonprofit sustainability and environmental organizations that are very worried with the conclusions they’ve found.
According to that report “The nation’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide — fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption — now exceeds what our nation’s ecosystems can renew this year. Similar to how a person can go into debt with a credit card, our nation is running an ecological deficit."
While it’s true that US consumption changes from state to state, overall consumption is twice the renewable natural resources and services that can be regenerated within the US borders. Sadly, these figures are replicated throughout the world. In fact, the report informs that the global population uses "the equivalent renewable resources of 1.5 Earths."
Of the entire country, only 16 states (such as Alaska and South Dakota) are actually within their ecological “budget” while (to actually no one’s surprise) California leads the states’ deficit, followed by Texas and Florida. What’s more surprising is that, though the US is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of resources, we aren’t able to meet our needs. The perfect example for this is Texas, listed by the report as one of the top three most resourceful states in the country yet being one of the most deficient states.
To arrive to these results, the researchers analyzed the ecological footprint of food, fiber and timber production and housing and road areas as well as the absorption of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. Those numbers were compared with the biocapacity of each individual area to provide and cover for those needs. The results are conclusive – and terribly frightening.
Of course, we need this report to be spread and its implications discussed. As David Batker, executive director of Earth Economics, puts it: “People need nature. Economies need nature. Securing prosperity in the 21st century requires using informed measures, like the Ecological Footprint, to improve policy, shift investment and fix our ecological budget."
The full report is filled with amazing data that can help you understand this problem and it’s worth checking out in its entirety. You can download it at the Global Footprint Network.