"The unprecedented drive for wealth and well-being of the past 40 years is putting unsustainable pressures on our planet," writes WWF Director General James Leape in the newly released 2010 edition of WWF's Living Planet Report, a biennial survey on the state of the planet's health.
One of the longest-running measures of the trends in the state of global biodiversity, the Living Planet Index shows an overall trend since the first Living Planet Report was published in 1998: a global decline of almost 30 percent between 1970 and 2007.
Leape explains, "The Living Planet Report relates the Living Planet Index - a measure of the health of the world's biodiversity - to the Ecological Footprint and the Water Footprint - measures of humanity's demands on the Earth's natural resources."
In 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, humanity's Ecological Footprint exceeded the Earth's biocapacity - the area actually available to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 - by 50 percent. In other words, it would take 1.5 Earths to keep up with humanity's consumption of natural resources.
"The Ecological Footprint shows a doubling of our demands on the natural world since the 1960s, while the Living Planet Index tracks a fall of 30 percent in the health of species that are the foundation of the ecosystem services on which we all depend," Leape writes.
The Living Planet Report shows that if everyone in the world lived like the average citizen of the European Union, the equivalent of 2.8 Earths would be required to keep up with current natural resource depletion rates and carbon dioxide emissions.
The 500 million inhabitants of the 27 European Union countries, although they make up just seven percent of the global population, are consuming almost twice as many natural resources as the global average.