Day the UK becomes a drain on world's resources

TOMORROW is the day the UK will go into "ecological debt", having used up all the natural resources it can provide for the year, research will show today.

Calculations from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) reveal that because of rising consumption of products such as food and energy from abroad, we start "living off" the rest of the world less than a third of the way through the year.

The day the UK effectively starts living beyond its means gets earlier each year. In 1961, it was 9 July and by 1981 it was 14 May. This year it is 12 April.

The calculation is based on the UK's ecological footprint – the quantity of natural resources it has compared with how much it uses and the amount of waste, such as greenhouse gases, it produces.

Consumption and waste are far outstripping what the country can naturally sustain.

The think-tank said the UK relies increasingly on imports as economic instability, climate change, competition for resources and growing consumption elsewhere mean the chances of the rest of the world providing for us are lessening.

According to a new edition of Andrew Simms' book Ecological Debt, countries such as the UK run up huge environmental debts.

Mr Simms said: "Uncontrolled growth of financial debt is laying waste to large parts of the global economy. An explosion of ecological debt looks set to do the same to a biosphere friendly to human civilisation.

"The difference is, nature doesn't do bail-outs.

"In responding to the financial crisis, the government assessed the scale and nature of response needed to prevent the collapse of the banking system. Now they need to assess the scale and nature of the climate crisis and respond accordingly."

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