Pressures on the Environment

Copyright Environmental Protection Agency


Since the 1950s:

  • World population has more than doubled, while the global economy has grown nearly sixfold.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions are up fivefold, giving way to global climate change.
  • Water and timber use has tripled.
  • Paper usage has risen sixfold.
  • Air and water pollution have increased.
  • World grain stocks are declining.
  • Oceans are being over-fished.
  • Extinction of plants and animals continues to rise.
  • 60% of people in developing countries lack sanitation (Vital Signs, 2015)

17% of the world's population consume 80% of the world's natural resources.

Ireland's footprint
Copyright the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government


The high levels of consumption experienced on a global scale are reflected - on a smaller scale - in Ireland. One way of measuring consumption patterns is through the use of an Ecological Footprint. The average Ecological Footprint of Irish residents is 4.8 global hectares per person. This means we would need 2.8 planets if everyone in the world used natural resources at the same rate as Ireland.

Moreover, in 2020 Ireland ranked 10th out of EU countries analysed in the Sustainable Progress Index. This index measures overall performance on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compared with other EU countries (Social Justice Ireland, 2020). Concerns remain over Ireland's performance in some areas, including the Environment, Gender Equality, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water and Life on Land.

We subsequently need to take heed of the results in order to reduce our footprint and set course for a more sustainable lifestyle if future generations are to enjoy the way of living we enjoy today.

Which path to chose?
Copyright the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

The Choice Is Yours

There are two paths now that you can choose to go down. Doing nothing will mean consumption will continue to spike, but bringing some sort of sustainability into your life will go a long way to stem the tide.

The decisions to change to a more sustainable lifestyle rests with every one of us, either as an individual or as a member of an organisation. As a consumer or an investor in business, you are in a key position to make informed choices for sustainable living.

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