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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 12:21 GMT
Energy study raises planet fears
Planet Earth from outer space.
Two more planets would be needed, researchers estimated
An environmental impact study has suggested that if everyone lived like the average Scot, two more planets would be needed to cope with demand.

Researchers set out to calculate the country's ecological footprint by measuring the flow of resources.

They found that the country consumes enough energy each year to run almost a billion televisions for 12 months.

The Viridis report concluded that Scotland could not carry on with its current levels of consumption.

Researchers said this was the first time they had been able to map the flow of resources into and out of Scotland.

Food consumption

They estimated the amount of land and sea needed to provide all the energy, water, transport, food and materials consumed in 2001.

This enabled them to work out the country's environmental impact, or ecological footprint.

It was calculated to be just over 27 million global hectares, with materials and waste making up 38% of that figure and food consumption accounting for 29%.

Scotland had the second smallest footprint in the UK, behind Wales.

The report said that if everyone on earth lived like the average Scot, two more planets would be required.

The study found that:

  • Scotland generated almost 15 million tonnes of waste in 2001 - enough for each person to fill one-and-a-half refuse bags every day

  • The average Scottish resident consumes enough water to fill half an Olympic swimming pool each year

  • The average Scottish resident consumes 624kg of food annually - equivalent to almost nine times their body weight

  • Scotland's total energy consumption in 2001 was enough energy to run 950 million televisions for a year.

Dr Richard Dixon, head of policy for WWF Scotland, said: "For the first time we can now measure exactly how sustainable Scotland really is and see the scale of the challenge.

"For example, we are making good progress on recycling, but even if we meet our targets, we are running to catch up with the increasing growth of the waste mountain - we must get serious about producing less."

The study estimated that even if all waste management targets are met by 2020, the ecological footprint would still increase under the current projections for growth in the amount of waste produced.

Scotland's environmental impact would be reduced by 10% if 40% of electricity was switched to renewable electricity, said the report.

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