London, Oct 29 : A report issued by conservation groups has determined that the planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch".
According to a report by BBC News, the document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third.
The report, known as "The Living Planet Report," is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.
It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.
This makes them "ecological debtors", meaning that they are drawing - and often overdrawing - on the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain them.
The report concluded that the reckless consumption of "natural capital" is endangering the world's future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy. "If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles," said WWF International director-general James Leape.
"While the media headlines continue to be dominated by the economic turmoil, the world is hurtling further into an ecological credit crunch," said Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at the conservation group's Scotland arm.
The countries with the biggest impact on the planet are the US and China, together accounting for some 40 percent of the global footprint.
The report shows that the US and United Arab Emirates have the largest ecological footprint per person, while Malawi and Afghanistan have the smallest. The index tracks population trends in 1,161 populations of 355 mammal species.
It shows an average 19 percent decrease, with the most serious declines in the tropics.
In the UK, the "ecological footprint" - the amount of the Earth's land and sea needed to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste - is 5.3 hectares per person.
This is more than twice the 2.1 hectares per person actually available for the global population.
The UK's national ecological footprint is the 15th biggest in the world, and is the same size as that of 33 African countries put together, according to the WWF.
"The events in the last few months have served to show us how it's foolish in the extreme to live beyond our means," said WWF's international president, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
"Devastating though the financial credit crunch has been, it's nothing as compared to the ecological recession that we are facing," he added.