The document contends that the world’s demands on natural resources overreach what the earth can sustain by almost a third, sending us hurtling towards another kind of crunch, one caused by repeated depletion of the world’s natural resources. Malta’s water footprint for the period 1997-2001 was very worrying indeed. The water footprint is made up of three types of water uses – blue, green and grey. The green water footprint is the volume of rainwater stored in the soil that evaporates from crop fields. The blue water footprint is the volume of freshwater drawn from water bodies that is used and not retuned. The grey water footprint is the volume of water polluted as a result of production processes. Malta’s total water footprint of production stood at 0.11 km3 per year. Of this, 0.05 km3 were classed as green water while 0.01km3 were classed as blue water.
The report says that more than three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.
This makes them “ecological debtors”, meaning that they are drawing – and often overdrawing – on the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain them. The report concludes that the reckless consumption of “natural capital” is endangering the world’s future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy. The report also states that the ecological ‘credit crunch’ which is set to hit in the future will dwarf the current financial crisis.
The countries with the biggest impact on the planet are the US and China, which together account for some 40 per cent of the global footprint.
Researchers who contributed to the report said the more than $2 trillion lost on stocks and shares was dwarfed by the up to $4.5 trillion worth of resources destroyed forever each year.
The report’s Living Planet Index, which is an attempt to measure the health of worldwide biodiversity, showed an average decline of about 30 per cent from 1970 to 2005 in 3,309 populations of 1,235 species.