Remiss of me not to mention that 6th October – last Saturday – was the day when the planet went into ecological debt this year; or in other words that we’re now using up resources which the earth isn’t able to replace. The new economics foundation (nef) marked the date with a report (free, but registration required).
A couple of quick points from it.
The first is the speed at which ‘ecological debt’ day is moving backwards through the calendar to earlier in the year. In 1987 we had barely exceeded the earth’s capacity (the date fell on 18th December); by 1997 it had shifted to 12th November, and by 2002 it was into October. It suggests that maybe resource collapse will do for us as a species before climate change does.
The other point is closer to home. Britain is second equal (with France) on the measure of how many planets would be needed to maintain everyone in our lifestyle, at 3.1. The United States clocks in at 5.3.
The report paints a striking picture of the way in which trade may look good in the GDP figures but does little for the environment. One randomly selected data point among many. We export 2,297 tonnes of ice cream to Sweden – and import from Sweden 2,257 tonnes. Our dependence on China is notable. (And generally the report offers a completely different perspective on the effects of globalisation than that found in say, The Economist).
I hope to come back to nef’s idea of the ‘Decaration of Interdependence’ on another day.