Life on Earth is part of one great independent system which depends on the biosphere: the atmosphere, oceans, freshwaters, rocks and soil. Sustainable and prudent use of resources, and conservation of biodiversity, is fundamental to safeguarding the Earth’s natural systems for future generations.

It is no small irony that in the age of ‘technological man’ people actually play a greater role in ecosystems than ever. Earth scientists claim that economic activity is the most significant geological force altering the face of the planet, and climatologists agree that we are now actually beginning to affect global climate.

Resource use and waste output per person vary tremendously from country to country, and will change in the future. For each resource, it is important to determine the burden we are now imposing, as well as the maximum sustainable burden beyond which that resource will degrade. For example, we are near the maximum sustainable burden for ocean fishing, and beyond the maximum sustainable burden for carbon dioxide emissions.

In order to plan for a sustainable future, we must carefully assess each area of resource use and waste output, and the impacts on Earth’s ecosystems.