An Oxfam paper published recently, A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: Can we live within the doughnut? asserts the demands of the rich, not needs of the poor threaten the biosphere.

Humanity’s challenge in the 21st century is to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity for all within the means of the planet’s limited natural resources. In the run-up to Rio+20, this discussion paper presents a visual framework – shaped like a doughnut – which brings planetary boundaries together with social boundaries, creating a safe and just space between the two, in which humanity can thrive. Moving into this space demands far greater equity – within and between countries – in the use of natural resources, and far greater efficiency in transforming those resources to meet human needs.

Worth a look…

George Monbiot also goes on to say about this report in his The Big Green Question post…

The space between these two lines is the “safe and just space for humanity to thrive in”. So what happens if everyone below the social justice line rises above it? Does that push us irrevocably over the destruction line? The answer, she shows, is no.

For example, providing enough food for the 13% of the world’s people who suffer from hunger means raising world supplies by just 1%.

Providing electricity to the 19% of people who currently have none would raise global carbon emissions by just 1%.

Bringing everyone above the global absolute poverty line ($1.25 a day) would need just 0.2% of global income.

In other words, it is not the needs of the poor that threaten the biosphere, but the demands of the rich. Raworth points out that half the world’s carbon emissions are produced by just 11% of its people, while, with grim symmetry, 50% of the world’s people produce just 11% of its emissions. Animal feed used in the EU alone, which accounts for just 7% of the world’s people, uses up 33% of the planet’s sustainable nitrogen budget. “Excessive resource use by the world’s richest 10 per cent of consumers,” she notes, “crowds out much-needed resource use by billions of other people.”