Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Earth Overshoot Day: ‘We can no longer binge on our planet’s finite resources’

Thomas Galvez via Flickr

Today is a momentous day for the Earth. As of August 20, countries have exceeded their resource budget for the year. The world is now in a state of ecological deficit.

Earth Overshoot Day, as it’s called, is coming earlier and earlier each year, according to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), which came up with the concept.

The organisation describes the day as “the annual marker of when we begin living beyond our means in a given year”.

It says that our need for ecological resources is currently equivalent to that of more than 1.5 Earths.

China has the largest ecological footprint and should need other 2.5 Chinas to support itself. However, the nation’s per capita footprint is lower than the one of people living in Europe and North America. In fact, according to the Global Footprint Network, “If everybody were to live like United States residents today, it would take four Earths to support the global population”.

Although many countries – including the UK, which presently needs another 3.5 UKs to support its resource demands – require more ecological services than what they should consume, not every nation is this situation.

Countries such as Australia, Sweden and Brazil are ‘ecological creditors’ but their reserves too are diminishing over time.

Commenting on the Earth Overshoot Day, WWF director of renewable energy and footprint outreach Keya Chatterjee said, “Overshoot Day is a reminder that we are devouring our planet’s future by living far beyond our means.

The most important environmental issues of our time – like climate change, disappearing forests, and the loss of species – are driven by the fact that we can’t keep our demand for natural resources in line with the Earth’s supply.

 “We can no longer afford to binge on our planet’s finite resources.”

She added, “We need to start living within our means, balance our ecological checkbook and start living in a way that ensures future generations inherit a planet that is able to keep giving. If not, Overshoot Day will continue to come earlier and earlier every year.”

Further reading:

The inevitability of easing pressure on humanity’s ecological credit card

What happens when gold, silver and bronze reserves run out?

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