Small-scale farmers in Ghana preparing land for planting (Photo: Grameen Foundation/Nana Kofi Acquah)
How much would ending poverty hurt the environment? This is the provocative question recently posed by researchers from the University of Leeds and the Mercator Research Institute. Put another way, can countries meet the basic human needs of their citizens and preserve our planet for future generations?
Analyzing the data from 150 countries, the researchers reveal a point of no return: a point at which greater resource use leads to both diminishing social welfare and mounting environmental degradation. Furthermore, they find that no country currently meets the basic needs of its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use.