Unlike many of the other days we set aside each year to mark a special occasion, Earth Overshoot Day – this year falling on today’s date (1 August) – is a time when humanity should take a long, hard look at itself.
Using records dating back to 1969, the Global Footprint Network has spent the past few years calculating the day in which humanity has used nature’s resource budget for an entire year.
Based on its latest estimate, humanity is currently using nature 1.7 times faster than our ecosystem can regenerate, including food, timber, fibre and the absorption of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Worryingly, 1 August marks the earliest Earth Overshoot Day ever since records began. By comparison, in 1970, the same milestone fell on 29 December.
It has occurred in the month of August since 2005 when it fell on 26 August. Since then, bar a period between 2011 and 2013, it has steadily moved earlier into the year.
‘A Ponzi scheme with our planet’
Ahead of this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel did not hold back, saying: “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.
“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.”
Despite the grim situation, there are least some potential strong remedies being offered, such as cutting food waste in half, potentially moving the date forward again by 38 days.
As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are three infographics that help put into numbers the shape of the planet right now.
All infographics courtesy of Global Footprint Network
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