News and updates from the continent


Earth Overshoot Day: Living in eco deficit

Earth Overshoot Day: Living in eco deficit

Aug 18, 2014

August 19 was Earth Overshoot Day 2014, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We will be operating in overshoot.

Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for and supply of natural resources and ecological services. And the data is sobering. Global Footprint Network estimates that approximately every eight months, we demand more renewable resources and C02 sequestration than what the planet can provide for an entire year.

According to an article by Global Footprint Network, we have used up earth’s budget for the year – in just eight months.

The cost of ecological overspending

Throughout most of history, humanity has used nature’s resources to build cities and roads, to provide food and create products, and to absorb our carbon dioxide at a rate that was well within Earth’s budget. But in the mid-1970s, we crossed a critical threshold: Human consumption began outstripping what the planet could reproduce.

According to Global Footprint Network’s calculations, our demand for renewable ecological resources and the services they provide is now equivalent to that of more than 1.5 Earths. The data shows us on track to require the resources of two planets well before mid-century.

The fact that we are using, or “spending,” our natural capital faster than it can replenish is similar to having expenditures that continuously exceed income. In planetary terms, the costs of our ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day. Climate change – a result of greenhouse gases being emitted faster than they can be absorbed by forests and oceans – is the most obvious and arguably pressing result. But there are others – shrinking forests, species loss, fisheries collapse, higher commodity prices and civil unrest, to name a few.

The environmental and economic crises we are experiencing are symptoms of looming catastrophe. Humanity is simply using more than what the planet can provide.

To read more on this, see which countries are in the red and see the solutions offered by Global Footprint Network, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *