tracking_the_ecological_overshoot - Tracking the ecological...

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Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human economy Mathis Wackernagel* , Niels B. Schulz , Diana Deumling*, Alejandro Callejas Linares § , Martin Jenkins , Valerie Kapos , Chad Monfreda*, Jonathan Loh i , Norman Myers**, Richard Norgaard †† , and Jørgen Randers ‡‡ *Redefning Progress, 1904 Franklin Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612; Institute ±or Interdisciplinary Studies o± Austrian Universities, Department o± Social Ecology, Schotten±eldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria; § Centro de Estudios para la Sustentabilidad, Obreros Textiles 57 Departamento 6, Colonia Marco Antonio Mun ˜ oz, 91060 Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, United Kingdom; i World-Wide Fund ±or Nature International, Avenue Mont-Blanc, 1196 Gland, Switzerland; **Green College, Ox±ord University, Ox±ord OX2 6HG, United Kingdom; †† Energy and Resources Group, 310 Barrows Hall, University o± Cali±ornia, Berkeley, CA 94720-3050; and ‡‡ Norwegian School o± Management BI, Elias Smiths vei 15, Box 580, N-1302 Sandvika, Norway Edited by Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved May 16, 2002 (received ±or review January 17, 2002) Sustainability requires living within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. In an attempt to measure the extent to which humanity satisFes this requirement, we use existing data to translate human demand on the environment into the area re- quired for the production of food and other goods, together with the absorption of wastes. Our accounts indicate that human demand may well have exceeded the biosphere’s regenerative capacity since the 1980s. According to this preliminary and explor- atory assessment, humanity’s load corresponded to 70% of the capacity of the global biosphere in 1961, and grew to 120% in 1999. Accounting for Humanity’s Use of the Global Biosphere T he human economy depends on the planet’s natural capital, which provides all ecological services and natural resources. Drawing on natural capital beyond its regenerative capacity results in depletion of the capital stock. Through comprehensive resource accounting that compares human demand to the bio- logical capacity of the globe, it should be possible to detect this depletion to help prepare a path toward sustainability. The purpose of this study is to develop such an accounting framework, and to measure the extent of humanity’s current demand on the planet’s bioproductive capacity. We build on many earlier attempts to create comprehensive measures of human impact on the biosphere. For example, Vitousek et al. (1) used consumption estimates to calculate humanity’s appropria- tion of the biosphere’s Net Primary Productivity (NPP). They concluded that the human economy co-opted organic material equivalent to 40% of the NPP of terrestrial ecosystems in 1980. Odum developed a conceptual basis for accounting for energy
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This note was uploaded on 11/12/2010 for the course ECON M134 taught by Professor Bresnock during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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tracking_the_ecological_overshoot - Tracking the ecological...

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