We Consume More Resources than Available in the Earth

by MVillanueva on September 25, 2015 - 9:35pm

The article L’humanité vit à crédit suggests that the world’s population consume more resources than available in the planet Earth. In 2014, only eight months were sufficient in order to reach and consume the entirety of the resources available in the Earth without compromising the regeneration of the said resources. The next four months’ consumption is seen as excess which results in ecological deficit that will use the Earth’s supplies and increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. According to the Global Footprint network, at least one planet and a half is needed to produce enough resources in order to sustain the ecological footprint of the Earth. There exists some audacious solutions based on sustainable development that would be helpful to the health of the planet. They consist into using renewable energies, consuming diets less based on meat and promoting circular economy instead of linear economy.

Author from Le Devoir (August 24th, 2014). L’humanité vit à crédit. Le Devoir. Retrieved from http://www.ledevoir.com/economie/actualites-economiques/416295/l-humanite-vit-a-credit


Hi MVillanueva,
The topic of your post caught my eye because I am very interested in resource management. I find it disturbing yet not surprising that humans are guilty of overconsumption of the Earth's resources, especially ones of economic or health value. I did not realize how extensive our overconsumption was until reading your blog post, however.

In your opinion, do you think that most of the overconsumption could be prevented if there was not such extensive food waste? I know food waste is a major issue that many researchers are trying to get under control, so it might be interesting to see where the resources are coming from. As well, you mentioned that the Global Footprint Network discusses how renewable energies can alleviate some of the stress that humans put on the Earth. Do you think that this will make a major difference at this point, or do you think it is essentially a "lost cause"?

I look forward to reading your response.

Hello GraceKelly,
I was as shocked as you when I read the article and learned how huge the problem of overconsumption of the Earth’s resources was.
As you said, food waste is a major problem related to overconsumption. In fact, when someone tosses food, they not only throw away the said food but also massive volumes of water. Only the US, the amount of water loss is equivalent to 40 trillion litres. Yes, 40 trillion litres (Suzuki). To answer your question, yes I think that overconsumption could be prevented if food waste was not that extensive. For instance, since 30% of food is tossed in the US (Suzuki), we could save up to 12 trillion litres of water and up to 30% of the resources wasted while producing and shipping the tossed food. For sure, this is a major problem, but I don’t like to see it as a “lost cause”. As the first article suggests, there are some solutions to overcome the problem other than drastically switching to renewable energies, which seems audacious. There are several little changes that one could do to alleviate the severity of this issue. Eating local food and less meat are two examples of what one can do to prevent overconsumption.

Dear MVillanueva,
Your article was drawn to my attention by your first sentence, that the world’s population currently consumer more resources than are available on earth. The regeneration simply wouldn’t be fast enough to cope with increasing population sixes which is where the world is heading. I thought that your article was well written in the sense it got the point across of the effects of overusing resources to the point of depletion by using sentences that were devastating facts. It’s most certainly an eye opener and the government just aren’t doing enough to find a solution to the problem, if anything a lot of countries are still to obsessed with economic greed that they see past those facts and focus on economic growth. I didn’t realise that the human race were so overconsuming that it would take a planet and a half to sustain what we currently demand for our population size.
I like that you ended the paragraph with the government current attempts are using renewable energies in order to reduce earths ecological footprint and emissions. I think the one of the main problems the human population currently have besides the usage of fossil fuels and deforestation is the overconsumption of food resources. It doesn’t really make sense for the government to not do anything about the mass of food waste that the earth has as it’s not only environmentally bad but it’s bad for the economy. Food waste doesn’t simply isolate this factor, it’s connected to a lot of different things: wasteful use of fertiliser chemicals which were sprayed onto the land in order to make crops grow larger and avoid pests and fuel emissions in the transportation of the food, labour, land, energy, capital and emissions contributing to global warming. The reason food waste is a main environmental hazard is because of what it releases.
Methane, one of the largest contributors to global warming, 23 times more toxic than C02 (Food Waste Facts. (n.d.)). In the USA for example organic waste is the second highest component in landfills leading to high methane emissions. The regional development differences are massive. Economically more developed countries waste 222 million of tons every year. (Food Waste Facts. (n.d.)) However it’s also a problem, not as large as more developed countries, in economically less developed countries. Its food waste arises in the early stages of food production and is said to be caused by lack of financial, managerial and technically issues in terms of harvesting and storage issues. In their case the government should be putting in more money to avoid these issues. The rate at which they are using resources is fine it’s more that so much is lost due to economic implications. In slightly more developed countries the problem is also placed on managerial skills of the waste. Food waste occurs in the later stages of supply, it said to be due to a lack of coordination with mangers in the companies.
I think the problem of overconsumption could be prevented if there was less food waste definitely, considering it releases methane, the highest greenhouse gas contributed, and can simply be fixed by better managerial of the resources and more communication between farmers and actors in the industry. It’s an issue for water as well as the water content in the food waste is lost, water is increasingly becoming less and less available and is not returning to the system. The increases in c02 in the atmosphere due to emissions and burning resources is resulting in the acidification of the ocean. It’s a negative loop of overconsumption and unsustainability. Take a look at http://www.unep.org/wed/2013/quickfacts/ for equally eye opening facts about food waste in particular.
Food Waste Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.unep.org/wed/2013/quickfacts/

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