August 13, 2015 was the Earth Overshoot Day. This is when our use of natural resources exceeds the planet’s ability to produce and replenish them. Planet Earth is in the red for the rest of the year.
Global overshoot occurs when we outspend our nature’s budget for the year. Our annual demands for goods and services, natural resources such as land and seas, wood, fruits and vegetables ,fish, meat, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption, has exceeded what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. It’s only August, and we have already outspent our annual budget of resources for the year. It’s actually a wake up call for humanity.
We are in serious debt with the planet
According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), an international ecological think tank, we have already used up all the amount of natural resources and ecological services that we were supposed to use for the entire year, as of August 13th, 2015, and it’s way more than what the planet can regenerate this year. At this rate, we’d need 1.6 Earths to meet our annual demands.
Our spending habit with the planet has put us in a serious debt. Our use of natural resources per year has exceeded the planet’s ability to replace and reproduce them by a factor of 1.6. Our planet will take years to heal itself.
“It can regrow plants, rebuild fish stocks, re-absorb carbon from the air, and return clean water to lakes, rivers and underground aquifers. But these processes take time.” – LiveScience
We have been Spending more than we earn
Since the beginning of human civilization, Mother Earth had abundant resources for human beings, and it replenished its resources faster than we could consume. However, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report, we have crossed the boundary. Humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish, for more than 40 years.
It began in the 70s, when we started taking more from the Earth, at a faster rate than it could regenerate. As a result, each year the gap between our consumption and regeneration grew wider and wider. The first Earth Overshoot Day fell in late December. This year, it falls on August 13.
What does it mean for us?
Spending more than what we earn means falling short on resources. We will not have enough resources to feed the growing population of the world if this trend continues. On one hand, we need to come up with technology that would allow us to grow food more efficiently, using less resources, land, water and energy.
On the other hand, we will also need to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. We need to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide emission, releasing less greenhouse gases and waste. Creating a global standard and certification systems for various commodities is also necessary.
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Related articles and resources:
- Top 5 Tips for Living a Greener Life | Environmental Professionals Network
- Sustainability & Ecological Footprint –How We Impact the Globe | Environmental Professionals Network
- We’ve already spent nature’s budget for the year, 6 days earlier than last year : TreeHugger
- Earth Overshoot Day
- About Earth Overshoot Day – Earth Overshoot Day
- WWF – Ecological Footprint