HUMANS are churning through the Earth's resources at 1.5 times the rate that nature can replace them - and the over-consumption rate is worsening.
The Living Planet Report, by environment group WWF, estimates that the Earth has enough productive land and sea for each person to use 1.8 hectares to draw the resources they need. In 2007, the average person used 2.7 hectares.
Scientists call this a state of ''ecological overshoot'' - extracting resources at a faster rate than the natural world can replace them.
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The average Australian had an ecological footprint of 6.8 hectares, making Australia the eighth most destructive country on a per capita basis. Only the residents of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Denmark, Belgium, the US, Estonia and Canada consumed more.
The report says it is possible to over-consume - for example, to log more wood from a forest than re-grows each year, or harvest more fish from an ocean than can be replenished - but only for so long.
''The analogy I like to use is that if this is a bank we are not living off the interest that the Earth is providing us, we are drawing down on the principal,'' says WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman.
''That is undermining not just the environmental sustainability of this planet, but the economic and emotional sustainability of the planet in the short-term.''
The largest chunk of the global ecological footprint is greenhouse gas emissions, which have increased 35 per cent since the firstLiving Planet Report in 1998.
The 2010 report says local exhaustion of natural resources was already happening in some places, citing Newfoundland's collapse of cod stocks.
It says although people can shift to new areas when a natural resource is spent, current consumption rates mean those resources will eventually also run out.
On current projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, the world will be using the equivalent of two planets' renewable resources a year by 2030.
Produced with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, the report includes three main indicators to monitor the state of the planet.
The Living Planet Index, which tracks nearly 8000 populations of more than 2500 animal species, found a decline in biodiversity of nearly 30 per cent between 1970 and 2007. Biodiversity loss was most severe in the tropics and in poorer countries.
The Water Footprint of Production index found 71 countries were experiencing water stress.