Ecological impact of Dutch lifestyle high & rising
If everyone would consume as much as the average Dutch person, the world would have to be 3,5 times larger than it is, according to the Living Planet Report just published by the World Wildlife Fund. This biannual report is the world's leading science-based assessment of the ecological state of the planet and the impact of human activity.
According to the report, based on statistics through 2008, the Netherlands has the 9th largest ecological footprint in the world, up from 11th place two years ago. Fossil fuel-rich Qatar, the world's richest country according to Forbes, topped the list.
Top 10 largest ecological footprints
(in hectares per person)
› Qatar - 11,68
› Kuwait - 9,72
› United Arab Emirates - 8,44
› Denmark - 8,25
› United States - 7,19
› Belgium - 7,11
› Australia - 6,68
› Canada - 6,43
› The Netherlands - 6,34
› Ireland - 6,22
The ecological footprint is defined as how much surface area a certain population needs to support their consumption and dispose of the waste they produce.
The Earth can provide on average 1,8 hectares per person. Meanwhile the average Dutch person uses 6,34 hectares, approximately 6 times more land than there is in the Netherlands itself, indicating that the Dutch population is heavily dependent on imports.
The Netherlands' relatively large footprint can be attributed to the fact that Dutch citizens travel by car and plane relatively frequently, houses here are often poorly insulated, and consumption of meat and dairy products, which require a lot of land to produce, is also relatively high.
The report also finds that global biological diversity has declined 28% since 1970, and that if the world's population continues to consume the planet’s resources at the current rate, by 2030 two planets worth of resources will be needed to support the world’s population. Beyond statistics, the report also includes suggestions for how you can reduce your personal footprint.
This year's report was launched from the International Space Station by Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, in collaboration with the European Space Agency. You can watch a YouTube video of Kuipers' message regarding the health of our planet below.
Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2012