Earth Overshoot Day

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Today is the point in the year when humans have exhausted nature’s budget for the year.  For the rest of 2013, we will be “overdrawn”, meaning we are now operating in overdraft by depleting the oceans and land and accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

The Global Footprint Network keeps track of humanity’s demand and supply of natural resources and ecological services. Their findings are very concerning, highlighting that in approximately eight months, we demand more renewable resources and CO2 sequestration than the planet can provide in an entire year.  Throughout history, humans have relied on the earth’s natural resources to build roads, provide building supplies, create products, and to absorb CO2 at a rate well within the Earth’s Budget. However, this changed on December 29 1970 when for the first time, human consumption outstripped the Earth’s capacity to produce. Ever since this date, the yearly overshoot day has been creeping forward.

The hard facts are that our current demand for renewable resources and ecological services is now equivalent to more than 1.5 Earths.  If our current demand continues then we are on track to require the resources of two planets well before the mid-century. This pressure on the Earth’s natural resources is becoming more and more evident. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, increasing extinction rates, fisheries collapse, shrinking forests, higher commodity prices and civil unrest are just a few examples of our planets resource crisis.

Not all countries have the same demand on the Earth’s resources as illustrated below:

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Looking forward, projections and models all agree that the Earth is operating under unsustainable levels. As described by the Global Footprint Network, “ We are well over budget, and that debt is compounding. It is an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt – food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere – comes with devastating human and monetary costs”.

As we continue the rest of 2013 in ecological deficit, lets be even more conscious of our impact on the environment and ways to minimize our demand on the Earth’s precious resources.

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