It’s no surprise that humanity is consuming more natural resources than the earth can replenish–– that is what experts mean when they say we are living unsustainably. But now, researchers can calculate the exact day of the year which we have surpassed the resources the earth can regenerate annually and this year that date was July 29.
The Global Footprint Network has been calculating what they call, “Earth Overshoot Day” since 1986.
“Earth Overshoot Day falling on July 29 means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate,” explained the Global Footprint Network. “This is akin to using 1.75 Earths.”
Their calculations are based on natural resources, including timber, fibers, food and carbon sequestration. Their data can also measure each country’s sustainability based on allotted resources per capita. Their findings show that some countries consume far more rapidly than others. For example, Qatar and Luxembourg were the first two countries to reach their nation’s Earth Overshoot Day. Iraq, Indonesia and Cuba were among the lowest, with their Overshoot Days not falling until December, when the year is almost over.
“The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events,” said the Global Footprint Network.
What can we do to change this course? Well, according to the Global Footprint Network, certain actions do have a significant impact on the Overshoot Day. For example, if the world cut meat consumption in half, our collective Overshoot Day would move 15 days.
“We have only got one Earth— this is the ultimately defining context for human existence,” said the Global Footprint Network. “We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences.”
Image via ThorstenF