Population Growth Slower Than Carbon Footprint, Still Harming Biodiversity

Foresters, geographers and ecologists have some good news. Although human population growth between 1992 and 2009 was 23%, and the global economy grew by 153%, the devastation to habitats, ecosystems and wilderness increased by only 9%.

But this single ray of good cheer is countered by a bleak warning from the same scientists that threequarters of the planet’s land surface is experiencing measurable human pressures.

And although the scientists found that the “footprint” of humanity has not grown to the same scale as the mass of humans and their goods and chattels, they report in Nature Communications that “pressures are perversely intense, widespread and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity”.

The study’s lead author, Oscar Venter, a forest scientist at the University of Northern British Columbia, says: “Seeing that our impacts expanded at a rate that is slower than the rate of economic and population growth is encouraging. It means we are becoming more efficient in how we use natural resources.”


James Cridland


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