|WWF Warns on Consumption of Resources
By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer
GENEVA – Humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and over-exploitation of the oceans are destroying Earth’s ability to sustain life, the environmental group WWF warned in a new report Thursday.
The biggest consumers of nonrenewable natural resources are the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Kuwait, Australia and Sweden, who leave the biggest “ecological footprint,” the World Wildlife Fund said in its regular Living Planet Report.
Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the Earth can produce, the report said.
“We are spending nature’s capital faster than it can regenerate,” said WWF chief Claude Martin, releasing the 40-page study. “We are running up an ecological debt which we won’t be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the Earth’s ability to renew them.”
But Fred Smith, president of the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and a former official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (news – web sites) during the Nixon and Ford administrations, said he was skeptical. In a telephone interview, Smith said the WWF view is “static” and fails to take into account the benefits many people get from resource use.
Use of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil increased by almost 700 percent between 1961 and 2001, the study said.
Burning fossil fuels