Grandma's Tales

October 12, 2006

We’re eating the planet!

Filed under: Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 8:28 pm

Two major think-tanks (one in the US and the other based in the UK) have put together an interesting, if alarming, report.

Every year, they arrive at a date on which people’s demands (the consumption of natural resources) overtake the Earth’s ability to supply resources. The authors call this day the “Ecological Debt Day”. When it was calculated the first time in 1987, the day fell on 19 December. The Earth just couldn’t support us beyond this date.

This year we defeated the Earth by 3 months. It is a race, right? The EDD fell on 9 October. We won by three months! It means our planet will take 15 months to regenerate what was consumed this year. And be ready to absorb our demands on it.

1987 – 19 December
1990 – 7 December
1995 – 21 November
2000 – 1 November
2005 – 11 October
2006 – 9 October

[Source: Global Footprint Network/the New Economic Foundation (Nef)]

The findings are based on a sytem of measuring how much water and land we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb the resulting waste. The authors say we are living on an “ecological credit card” and are “liquidating our natural resources”.

This system of measuring the depletion of natural resources has come in for criticism. But we know there is a lot of truth in this. Andrew Simms, Nef’s policy director has said that we make two mistakes by running up “ecological debts”.

“First, we deny millions globally who already lack access to sufficient land, food and clean water the chance to meet their needs. Secondly, we put the planet’s life support mechanisms in peril.”

Which is why I am upset at Yahoo!’s promo clip of its new tool bar. You get to see it when you send a message. The animation apprears below the “Sent” information. There are several clips and they keep changing. The message is: look for a sharper, quicker tool to do your tasks. Fine. But take a look at this.

A huge tree trunk appears on the screen. A guy with an electric saw starts cutting. In a nano-second the tree crashes down to the accompaniment of “Yahoo!” rendered in true Shammi Kapoor style.

I use Yahoo! and I love its features. So I don’t want their new tool to be associated with a saw that cuts down a large tree effortlessly. The association is not a happy one. And the shout at the end of the promo sounds obscene to me.


  1. Speaking of “ecological debts” do have a look at George Monbiot’s article “Selling Indulgences” ( ). He has much to say on corporations “greewashing” their public image.

    (And thank you, Basab, for announcing this blog’s existence!)

    Comment by A Giridhar RAO — October 23, 2006 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  2. Hi A Gridhar RAO,
    Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the link. My point is this: How come such ads are allowed to be aired? I came across an organisaiton called Advertisement Standards Council, which I think is based in Mumbai. I’m going to establish contact with them.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — October 23, 2006 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

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