Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sustainability of human resource consumption

The resources that mankind uses is finite.The resources usually rejuvenate over a period of time. Using the resources at a higher rate than resource production/rejuvenation by nature causes resource overuse and depletion. Below graph summarizes the relationship between resource consumption and resource availability by different country groups as on 2010.

Resource Consumption vs Resource Availability across countries
The article interprets,
"Ecological Footprint of Consumption"  as "Resource consumption"
"Total Biocapacity" as "Resource Availability".

Ecological Footprint explained:
Ecological Footprint, Courtesy: Global FootPrint Network

Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.

Resource Availability and Resource Consumption through time

The result is collapsing fisheries, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and the build up of carbon dioxide emissions, which creates problems like global climate change. These are just a few of the most noticeable effects of overshoot. 

Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

A more compelling graph about resource usage,
Resource usage in terms of resource availability of Earth, Courtesy: Global FootPrint Network

The first step in ending resource over-use is to recognize and acknowledge resource over-use.

Graph data source (Excel sheet).

The data on Ecological Footprint of Consumption  and Total Biocapacity is from Global FootPrint Network.

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