Earth Overshoot Day : Congrats! We’ve Used Earth’s Quota of Natural Resources for 2018

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Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used more from nature than our planet can renew in that entire year. This year, August 1 marks the Earth Overshoot Day.

The day arrives one day earlier than last year (August 2nd in 2017) and is the earliest since the overshoot began in the 1970s. The growing needs of the humanity means that this date has been moving up the calendar – from late September in 1997 to its earliest yet this year.

Through our consumption rates and a growing population, that as a species, we are currently using up nature’s resources around 1.7 times faster than the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate them. Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that observes humanity’s use of natural materials, as well as the environmental damage they cause.

Mathis Wackernagel, head of the organization, said: “Fires are raging in the western United States; on the other side of the world, residents in Cape Town have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet” and further added, “Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet. We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt.

The rate at which the overshoot date is moving up the calendar, however, has slowed. Over the last five years, on average, the day has moved less than a day a year, compared to three days a year on average since overshoot began in 1970s. Last year, the day came on August 2. Next year, if actions are not taken to reverse the trend, the date will be in July, just seven months into the year. In the context of India, if we continue to use our resources at the current rate, we would need 2.5 countries to satisfy the needs of our population.

The Global Footprints Network that calculates the overshoot date, proposes four solutions.

Cities: With populations moving towards urban settings, smart city planning to make buildings more energy efficient and public transport more accessible is needed.

Energy: Phasing out fossil fuels and sticking to the Paris Accord would help in reducing the carbon footprint. 

Food: If everyone in the world cut food waste in half, reduced the food items whose production is carbon dense and consumed world-average calories, overshoot would be pushed by 38 days.

Population: If every other family in the world had one less child, the Overshoot Day will move back by 30 days by 2050.