Thursday 6 November 2008

Forget the credit crunch, think eco-crunch

Good news! The Bank of England has just cut its base rate by 1.5% meaning that many of us will have a little more money to go around and we might just start to think that things are going to better in a year or so, also making us feel a little better about the here and now.

That rate cut shaves no less than one third off the base rate. Just like that (as Tommy Cooper might say). It seems so easy for it to happen that you might wonder what conjurer, what slight of hand, makes it happen now when something could and should have been done a while ago.

Isn't hindsight wonderful? Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a separate committee for the preservation of the planet that could sit down for a chat and decide that we all slice a third off the demands that we place on our environment? Today. Just like that.

That's what the planet needs but even if it could happen the harm already caused would not be quickly undone. And let's face it, now that Tommy Cooper is no longer with us, there's little chance of a conjurer achieving the cut. And as for the global committee that is the human race, as we focus on the credit crunch we are liable to forget the eco-crunch and issues such as sustainability, fair trade and global warming.

So if a magic emission cut is not possible what is going to become of us and our planet?

In the latest Living Planet Report, the WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network say "the world is heading for an ecological credit crunch as human demands on the world's natural capital reach nearly a third more than earth can sustain." There's that magic third I was referring to above.

"We are acting ecologically in the same way as financial institutions have been behaving economically – seeking immediate gratification without due regard for the consequences," said Jonathan Loh of the Zoological Society of London. And WWF International Director-General James Leape said “If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles.”

The report was issued on 29 October. For more statements and highlights from the report see the WWF news archive - here's a direct link to the report.

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