Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Earth Overshoot Day 2013

This year August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day. This annual marker is the day when we begin living beyond our ecological means or the day when humanity exhausts nature’s budget.

Earth Overshoot Day is an approximate date when our resource consumption for a given year exceeds the planet’s ability to replenish.The measure helps us to acknowledge the gap between our demand for ecological resources and services, and how much the planet can provide.

We are already exceeding the earth's annual carrying capacity and we are only a couple of months past the halfway point of the year. For the remaining four and half months of this year we will be operating on an ecological deficit. This has troubling implications for climate change and resource depletion.

As far as climate change is concerned, carbon dioxide is being emitted faster than it can be absorbed by forests and oceans. In addition we are seeing shrinking forests, species loss, fisheries collapse, higher commodity prices and civil unrest.

As a global civilization we began to exceed the Earth's annual carrying capacity in the mid-1970s. Annual demands are now equivalent to that of more than 1.5 Earths. The general trend shows that overshoot day has been coming sooner. In 1993, Earth Overshoot Day fell on October 21 and in 2003, the day fell on September 22. Before 2050 it is expected that our demands will be twice what the earth can provide.

This measure comes to us the Global Footprint Network and UK think tank new economics foundation. For more information and a review of the methodology employed click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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