World goes into 'ecological debt'
The world has gone into "ecological debt", having used up more resources and produced more waste this year than the planet can cope with, campaigners have warned.
Humans have exhausted nature's supplies such as land, trees and fish for the year and its capacity to absorb waste products including carbon dioxide, and are now "eating into savings", the Global Footprint Network said.
As a result natural resources are shrinking and carbon dioxide is accumulating.
Global Footprint Network president Dr Mathis Wackernagel said the pressure humans are putting on the planet's resources is "like spending your annual salary three months before the year is over, and eating into savings year after year".
"Pretty soon you run out of savings," he warned.
Since 1961 the demands we are placing on the natural world have doubled and the amount of resources needed to sustain human activities each year would now require us to have between 1.2 and 1.5 Earths.
Despite the global economic crisis, humanity's demands on natural resources continue to rise, although more slowly than before the credit crunch, the campaigners said.
While this year's "ecological debt" day falls several weeks later than last year, the Global Footprint Network warned that it was not a sign that people were living more within their means.
Andrew Simms, from the network's partner organisation the New Economics Foundation (NEF), said: "At a time when the global economy is reeling due to the poor risk management and financial accounting of the banks, a potentially bigger crisis is growing due to our faulty accounting of the biosphere.
"Where finance is concerned, orderly bankruptcy is an option. But the consequences of ecological debt leading to failed ecosystems are likely to be beyond our control."