Global Overshoot Day Reveals We Consume The Natural Resources Of 1.7 Earths... And It's Only Getting Worse

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 - 10:49AM
Dystopias
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 - 10:49AM
Global Overshoot Day Reveals We Consume The Natural Resources Of 1.7 Earths... And It's Only Getting Worse
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Each year the Global Footprint Network (GFN), an international environment think tank, assesses how much of the Earth's resources humans use and calculates the day when our species consumption exceeds Earth's biocapacity: its ability to regenerate its resources to sustain human life on the planet. That day is marked as Global Overshoot Day and each day – actually, each second – after that represents a negative balance in Earth's resource account.

As the GFN states on the Global Overshoot Day site, "Since the 1970s, when global ecological overshoot became a reality, we have been using more renewable natural resources than our planet can regenerate. This is akin to drawing down the biosphere's principal rather than living off its annual interest. To support our demands on nature, we have been liquidating resource stocks and allowing carbon dioxide to accumulate in the atmosphere."

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Ecological overshoot is only possible for a limited time before ecosystems begin to degrade and possibly collapse.
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According to The Independent, Global Overshoot Day began being observed in 1986. Each year since then has seen it arrive earlier and earlier, with August 1, 2018 – today – marking the earliest it's ever arrived.

Thanks in part to a growing population (a 104% increase since 1970) and increased consumption, we are, the GFN says, using the resource equivalent – including clean air, food, land, and the ability to dispose of our waste – of 1.7 Earths. In fact, at the rate that we are outgrowing our ecological niche, we will be using the resource equivalent of two Earths by 2030.

More alarming than the Global Overshoot Day (which covers the entire planet) is the Country Overshoot Day, which gives an idea of where the world would fall if everyone followed the habits of a particular country. You might be surprised to learn that America is not at the top of the list. That nefarious honor belongs to Qatar (February 9th) – but the United States still ranks well above the rest of the world in terms of overconsumption in the number six slot (March 15th). 

Before you begin stocking your bunker with dried food and fresh water in preparation for the day when overpopulation causes society to collapse under its weight – and we mean that both literally and figuratively – the GFN offers a glimpse of hope, however faint. "If everyone committed to #MoveTheDate 5 days each year," they write, "we could get out of global overshoot by 2050."
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