Humanity is devouring our planet’s resources in increasingly destructive volumes, according to a new study that reveals we have consumed a year’s worth of carbon, food, water, fiber, land, and timber in a record 212 days.
As a result, the Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the point at which consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate – has moved forward two days to 1 August, the earliest date ever recorded.
It is the date when humanity annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year. It is calculated by Global Footprint Network and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The increasing burden on natural resources:
Currently, humankind is using 170% of the world’s natural output. That means we are using up the equivalent of 1.7 Earths. And, according to the Global Footprint Network, we’re on track to be using two Earths by the end of the 21st Century.
In 1963, we used 78% of the Earth’s biocapacity. However, by the early 1970s, we began to consume more energy than the planet could produce. By 10 years ago, we were using 144% of the Earth’s biocapacity.
The two greatest contributing factors to humanity’s Ecological Footprint are carbon emissions, which accounts for 60%, and food, 26%.
If we cut our carbon emissions by half, according to the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day would come 89 days later in the year.
If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we could move the date back 11 days. By eating less protein-intensive food, we could move it back 31 days.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the number of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian common calendar year.
It is an international nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to enable a sustainable future where all people have an opportunity to thrive within the means of one planet.
It develops and promotes tools for advancing sustainability, including ecological footprint and biocapacity, which measure the amount of resources we use and how much we have. These tools aim at bringing ecological limits to the center of decision-making.