Humanity is using more resources per year than ever, and it’s getting to the point where the Earth can barely keep up.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can produce in that year. It is a date calculated by the Global Footprint Network, which researches the annual usage of materials like food, lumber, and minerals, and the impact of carbon emissions and new infrastructure. Each year that date has come closer than before, with this year’s Overshoot Day now landing on August 1st, two days earlier than last. That unfortunately means that humanity has used a year’s worth of resources in only seven months.
The effects of increased consumption in the face of lower ecological production are harsh. We are already noticing a loss of biodiversity, increasing deforestation, soil erosion, fresh water scarcity and mounting buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, We see more severe droughts, flooding, wildfires, and hurricanes each year. We are facing down an ecological time bomb.
“Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet. “ said Mathis Wackernagel, head of the Global Footprint Network. “We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt.”
“It’s time to end this ecological Ponzi scheme and leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction.”
What can you do to help?
Here are some small ways you can help reduce your community’s impact, and help build a better earth.
Global consumption has increased alongside population to unsustainable levels. If all of humanity consumed as much as Americans, it would require the resources of over five earths.
The more of us there are, the less planet there is per person and for wildlife. With more than 7.6 billion people on the planet and increasing consumption, humans have destroyed habitat and driven massive plant and animal extinction.
We can do more to help educate on family planning, and to fight for reproductive rights and universal access to birth control. We can ensure the earth remains beautiful and hospitable for generations to come.
How do you commute to work? Most in the United States would say they drive solo, which exponentially increases the amount of carbon emissions: Cars are in fact responsible for 19.7% of the global carbon footprint. If you’re able to, try ditching the ride alone for a carpool, a bicycle, or public transit.
The Global Footprint Network hopes that measures like these will help reduce driving by half worldwide, and increase usage of public transit, walking, and cycling by one third of current rates.
Most estimates state that 60% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2030 and as much as 80% by 2050. That means that any action for sustainability will be won in the cities worldwide. It is crucial that city planning and development adapt to alleviate the demand on our environment.
Go to your city’s website, and find out more about its environmental policy and commitment. If you discover that your city doesn’t currently support a specific environmental issue, like renewable energy, recycling, adequate public transportation, green buildings, or urban agriculture, act on it! Find out how to contact your local officials. Email, tweet, send a letter, or call! Every step you take sends a message to your city, and shows them that you mean business.
Want to help restore the Earth and push back World Overshoot Day? Let us know what you plan to do in the comments below!