Let me begin with four words that will provide the context for this week, four words that will come to define this century. Here they are: The Earth is full. It’s full of us, it’s full of our stuff, full of our waste, full of our demands. Yes, we are a brilliant and creative species, but we’ve created a little too much stuff —so much that our economy is now bigger than its host, our planet.
This is not a philosophical statement, this is just science based in physics, chemistry and biology.There are many science-based analyses of this, but they all draw the same conclusion — that we’re living beyond our means. The eminent scientists of the Global Footprint Network, for example, calculate that we need about 1.5 Earths to sustain this economy. In other words, to keep operating at our current level, we need 50 percent more Earth than we’ve got. In financial terms, this would be like always spending 50 percent more than you earn, going further into debt every year. But of course, you can’t borrow natural resources, so we’re burning through our capital, or stealing from the future.