Not to make your Monday any worse than it needs to be, but, as a planet, we’ve consumed more than we’ve produced this year – and it’s only August.
According to the Global Footprint Network, Thursday, August 13, was Earth Overshoot Day 2015, when the total combined consumption of all human activity on Earth in a year overtakes the planet’s ability to generate those resources for that year. This came six days earlier than it did last year.
And it’s getting earlier every year.
It’s determined by assessing all the resource demands of the world and humanity that compete for space, like food, fiber, timber, et cetera. How much area needed to provide those services and how much productive surface is available is also assessed.
Basically, in plain English, it’s only August and we’ve already used up 100 per cent of the resources produced by the planet this year. Meaning, any further consumption in the remaining months of the year places an unsustainable burden on earth.
In a metaphor outlined in a National Geographic article, Earth Overshoot Day is “like the day you spend more than your salary for a year, only you are all humans and your salary is Earth’s biocapacity.
In an ideal world, Overshoot Day would come after December 31 – and back in 1970, that reality wasn’t too far off, when the date fell on December 23.
Now, there’s not a chance that would ever happen.
August 13 is the earliest yet, with Overshoot Day creeping ahead as time marches on.
While Overshoot Day doesn’t mean we’ve exhausted our resources for the year, it does mean that we’re “essentially dipping into savings by using capacity that hasn’t been tapped,’ as the National Geographic piece puts it.
And that’s definitely not a good thing – some of the consequences include struggling fisheries, accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, soil erosion, and deforestation.
How capacity is used varied between countries. For example, the US and China overshoot earlier than many other countries, while others have surplus to spare. The countries with small biocapacities, like islands or desert countries, will hit their “country overshoot day” much sooner in the year than countries with larger biocapacities or ecological footprints, according to the National Geographic.
In the meantime, we can only hope that positive change comes out of things like the upcoming UN Conference for Climate Change in Paris, and that all of our nations can reach an innovative agreement for the future of the planet. If we’re able to reduce carbon emissions by at least 30 per cent below today’s level by 2030, Earth Overshoot Day could be moved back on the calendar to September 16, 2030 according to the Global Footprint Network.
And that’s still a long way to go without getting very far.