The planet isn’t equipped to deal with the amount of pollution humans pump out or the amount of resources we gobble up every year. To show just how unbalanced things are, each year we mark Earth Overshoot Day, the point that we use up nature’s entire “budget” for the year. This year, Overshoot Day falls on August 8 – earlier than it ever has before in history. Think of it as a bank statement for the planet, and from here on out for the rest of the year, we’re bouncing checks.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the point where we have pulled more resources, like fish, fuel and water, out of the planet than can be replenished. It’s also the point where we have put more pollution into the air and water than Earth can successfully deal with. Humans have been doing that for a long time, but ever since 1971, Overshoot Day has crept disconcertingly earlier and earlier. This year, Overshoot Day is a full 5 days earlier than last year. That’s the earliest it has ever been.
Obviously, the way we are living is not sustainable. We’d need an entire second planet to maintain our current way of life in developed countries. Since we don’t have a second Earth, our only other option is to learn to live in balance with the planet. We can make lots of individual choices to help, but the biggest impact comes from forcing our governments to take action and electing people who support sustainability. The Dutch are banning polluting cars, entire cities are going vegetarian and the Paris climate agreement is a major step towards global change. Hopefully, if we keep the momentum going, rather than creeping earlier yet again next year, we can push the Earth Overshoot Day back.