Most often, in life, it is beneficial to be ahead of schedule for things–better than the alternative, being late. Well, when it comes to annually using up our world’s resources, the earlybird doesn’t get the worm…the earlybird probably only gets hungry, and thirsty, and hot, very hot.
Earth Overshoot Day should be sometime in early October, for many years, while not great, it happened right around now, but this year, 2014, it happened on August 19. Yikes!
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. The Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for, and supply of, natural resources and ecological services, and at some point on the calendar, we get to the point where we are in a deficit compared to what can be provided, so we are technically drawing down resources and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We owe the world, and that tipping point date gets earlier every year. In banking terms, we are drawing down the earth’s principal rather than responsibly living off the interest.
Ecological overshoot is a non-sustainable way of life and possible for only a limited period of time before we degrade the system so far that we end up with water shortages, desertification, soil erosion, reduced cropland activity, overgrazing, rapid species extinction, collapse of fisheries, and increased carbon concentration…sound familiar?
Our global overshoot has nearly doubled since 1961. According to Global Footprint Network, we are now living large, literally, as it would take 1.5 Earths to actually support our current consumption, and predictions state we would require two entire planets to support our usage trends by mid-century. Only 14% of our world lives in counties with more biocapacity than usage footprint, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Chile, and Brazil. The United States is squarely in the not-so-happy redzone, using more natural resources than we can possibly provide.
Check out this interactive FOOTPRINT CALCULATOR to discover how much land area it takes to support your own lifestyle, discover your biggest areas of resource consumption, and learn what you can do to tread more lightly on the earth.