A Thousand Acres … Well, Make That 4.7
Global standards of living will plummet by mid-century unless human beings drastically decrease their use of natural resources, according to a report issued yesterday by the World Wildlife Fund. The main culprits in the overuse of resources are the world’s richest countries: the U.S., Canada, Japan, and most of Western Europe, according to “Living Planet Report 2002.” The report found that more than 20 percent more natural resources are used every year than can be regenerated, meaning that by 2050, a second Earth would be necessary to meet human demand. To mitigate the problem, the report suggested using technology to cut down on waste, gradually abandoning reliance on fossil fuels, and promoting health care and education to control population growth. Implicitly, it also suggested living more like people in Africa, where each household consumes on average natural resources from 3.4 acres — compared to the Western European average of 12.5 acres. There are about 28.5 billion productive acres of land and sea on Earth, or about 4.7 acres for each of the planet’s 6 billion people.