'Earth Overshoot Day': How Humanity Is Living On Borrowed Time

Mindy Sparks
August 2, 2018

Today is Earth Overshoot Day - the date when we (all of humanity) have used more resources from nature than our planet can regenerate in the entire year.

The overshoot happens because humans use more natural resources way faster than Earth can reproduce through excessive fishing, forest harvesting, and the continuous emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Global Footprint Network (GFN), an worldwide research organisation, says that in 1997 the Earth Overshoot Day fell in late September.

From Thursday, the group says, we're all living on credit until December 31. The current rate of consumption is equivalent to 1.7 earths. Since then, bar a period between 2011 and 2013, it has steadily moved earlier into the year.

Sanedi believes that if organisations and people can be informed, educated and committed to their contribution and steps to combat the overshoot impact on the planet, the date can be moved back several days through personal and organisational efforts.

"Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet", he warned, adding people were using the Earth's future resources in the present day, and digging deeper into "ecological debt".

"It's time to end this ecological Ponzi scheme and leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction".

The Global Footprint Network measures humanity's demand for food, timber and fibers (cotton); absorption of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels; and buildings, roads and other infrastructure.

For example, if everyone in the world lived like a USA citizen, we would need five Earths to continue our lifestyle. The four major areas that Wackernagel and his team have identified as major factors in this trend are urban sprawl and transportation, electricity generation, food, and family planning and overall population. GFN said it takes 14 times more land to produce a ton of beef than a ton of grain, while pork production requires 1.9 times more.

"But fires are raging in the Western United States".

Despite the grim situation, there are least some potential strong remedies being offered, such as cutting food waste in half, potentially moving the date forward again by 38 days.

"These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet".

The first one is to decrease the use of automobiles by 50 percent and the total traveled distance by 30 percent. Notable declines were seen in Singapore, the Bahamas, Denmark, United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and France.

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