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GLAND, Switzerland, October 21, 2004 (ENS) - Humans are devouring Earth's resources at 
a pace
that is overwhelming the planet's capacity to support life, according to a new report 
by WWF,
the global conservation organization. The health of the planet is declining at a rapid 
due to our increasing consumption of natural resources, especially in North America. 

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The WWF's Living Planet Report 2004 shows that humans are now consuming 20 percent more
natural resources than the Earth can produce. As a result, other species are being 
crowded out
of existence. 

The Living Planet Index, which tracks trends in populations of more than a thousand 
shows that half of all populations of freshwater species have disappeared between 1970 
2000, and populations of terrestrial and marine species have dropped by 30 percent. 

"We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate," said Dr. Claude 
director general of WWF International. "We are running up an ecological debt which we 
won't be
able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of 
resources and the Earth's ability to renew them." 

The Living Planet Report 2004 is the fifth in a series of Living Planet publications, 
all explore the impact of humans on the planet. Based on two indicators - the Living 
Index and the Ecological Footprint - it examines the state of nature and resource use 
in 149

Our ecological footprint  that is the impact of humanity on the Earth  has increased 
fold since 1961, the report shows. 

The average footprint today is 2.2 hectares per person while there is only 1.8 
hectares of
land to provide natural resources for each of the people on the planet. 

To get this figure WWF divided the Earth's 11.3 billion hectares of productive land 
and sea
space among its 6.1 billion people. 

The ecological footprint is a measure of environmental sustainability. It measures how 
nature we have, how much nature we use, and who gets what, WWF explains. It represents 
amount of biologically productive land and water an individual, a city, a country or 
all of
humanity requires for the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste, using 

WWF calls our energy footprint dominated by the use of fossils fuels such as coal, gas 
and oil
"particularly alarming." This is the fastest growing component of the ecological 
increasing by nearly 700 percent in the 40 years between 1961 and 2001. 

WWF warns that the overexploitation of these fuels is putting "the whole of humanity 
threat from climate change." The antidote is found in renewable energies and promote 
efficient technologies, buildings and transport systems, the organization says. 

Nowhere is this overconsumption more acute than in the United States and Canada. The
ecological footprint of an average North American is not only double that of a 
European but
seven times that of the average Asian or African. 

Pressure on the Earth's resources will only increase as the Asian and African regions 
and consume more. 

"Sustainable living and a high quality of life are not incompatible," said Jonathan 
Loh, one
of the authors of the report. "However we need to stop wasting natural resources and to
redress the imbalance in consumption between the developing and industrialized 

WWF is urging governments to act on their commitments to reduce the rate of 
biodiversity loss
by 2010. These commitments were repeated at the meeting of the UN Convention on 
Diversity in Kuala Lumpur this year. The meeting also set national and regional 
targets for
creating networks of protected areas, including new parks, which will help safeguard

The Living Planet Report 2004 is online at:

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