On August 1, humanity has used nature’s resource budget for the entire year, according to the international research organization Global Footprint Network, that has pioneered the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric. The Ecological Footprint adds up all of people’s competing demands for productive areas, including for food, timber, fibers, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions make up 60 percent of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.
Earth Overshoot Day has moved from late September in 1997 to August 1st this year, the earliest date since the world first went into overshoot in the early 1970s. In other words, humanity is currently using nature 1.7 times faster than ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.7 Earths.
The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident around the world, in the form of deforestation; fresh-water scarcity; soil erosion; biodiversity loss; and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to climate change and more severe droughts, wildfires and hurricanes.
“Our current economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet”, said Mathis Wackernagel, CEO and co-founder of Global Footprint Network. “We are borrowing the Earth’s future resources to operate our economies in the present. Like any Ponzi scheme, this works for some time. But as nations, companies, or households dig themselves deeper and deeper into debt, they eventually fall apart.”
“It’s time to end this ecological Ponzi scheme by design, not by disaster. It’s time to #MoveTheDate”, Wackernagel added. “This is critical if humanity is to thrive.”
#MoveTheDate toward sustainability
Reversing the trend is possible. If Earth Overshoot Day was moved back by 5 days every year, humanity would return to using the resources of less than one planet by 2050. Ahead of Earth Overshoot Day 2018, Global Footprint Network highlights opportunities for action that are available today and estimates their impact on the date of Earth Overshoot Day. For instance, replacing 50 percent of meat consumption with a vegetarian diet would move the date of Overshoot Day by 5 days; reducing the carbon component of the global Ecological Footprint by 50 percent would move the date of Overshoot Day by 93 days.
To learn more about the organization, its projects and the campaign #MoveTheDate, please visit https://www.footprintnetwork.org/.
- To calculate your own Overshoot Day and Ecological Footprint, go to:www.footprintcalculator.org
- More on Earth Overshoot Day: www.overshootday.org
- Ecological Footprint Explorer open data platform: data.footprintnetwork.org