We all know about Earth Day and Arbor Day, with their focus on renewable resources and an appreciation for our great planet, but have you heard of Overshoot Day? The Global Footprint Network tracks humans’ overall global resource consumption, and they recently named the day when we surpassed the sustainable limit of resources for the year, which is known as Overshoot Day. This year marks the earliest date yet: August 13th – six days earlier than 2014, which means that everything we consume for the rest of the year goes beyond what the planet can sustain.
At the beginning of this century, our “ecological debt” began in early October, but now the date consistently falls in August, and it creeps earlier every year. But how do we know when we’ve used up our yearly ration? The GFN explains: “Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in 2015.”
There are many ways humans are speeding up the process: developing countries and countries like the US and China are using a disproportionately large amount of resources (and creating tons of emissions), ceaseless population overgrowth is eating up resources at an ever-growing rate, and initiatives to switch to renewable energy are not happening nearly fast enough to catch up. The bottom line is this: right now we need 1.6 Earths to sustain our current population and its demands. Amazingly, one billion people are living in extreme poverty, which suggests that the way we distribute the resources we do use is completely out of whack. Where do you believe is the best place to start?