The 2008 Living Planet Report

Adding Machine Tape with Bright Blue Globe rel=
77% of us are living in ecological debt.
© iStockPhoto / Marianne Guntow

[the possibility of a] financial recession pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch.

James P. Leape, Director Gerneral, WWF International

2008's Living Planet Report (LPR) again looks at the cause and effect relationships which determine the Earth's health. Key to the report is the Living Planet Index, used to map out the state of the world's ecosystems, and our Ecological Footprint.


This year the report also examines the impact of our consumption of the Earth’s water resources and our growing vulnerability to water scarcity, which now affects over 50 countries on this planet.

Also included for the first time is sophisticated data allowing species population trends to be analysed by biogeographic realm and taxonomic group as well as by biome.

Trends in sample populations of selected species

The examples shown in the animation below give an insight into trends in animal populations from different locations but do not necessarily represent the picture for the entire species.

Although there are some positive signs, with some populations either stable or increasing - and these represent conservation successes from which we can learn - they are unfortunately in a minority.

Solutions identified

Identifying where the biggest problems lie allows LPR 2008 to present Climate Solutions Models assessing the effectiveness of the current solutions for change.

Using a wedge approach (as pioneered by Pacala and Socolow in 2004) the report illustrates how, for example, moving to clean, efficient energy generation based on current technologies could allow us to meet the projected 2050 demand for energy services with major reductions in associated carbon emissions.

Carbon remains the largest single demand humanity places on the biosphere.

“Governments need to determine safe practices for food production, energy consumption, water use, species introduction and land-use change. Private businesses need to partner with governments to define sustainable practices with environmentally sound technologies”.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director
The Earth Institute

In essence, the LPR 2008 defines the rapidly accelerating challenges we will face before reaching the middle of the 21st century.

...by the mid-2030s we will need the equivalent of 2 planets to maintain our lifestyles.

James P. Leape, Director Gerneral, WWF International

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