September 25th marks ‘Earth Overshoot Day’

Earth’s green overshoot ‘starts today’: NGO

Published: Friday 25 September 2009

Today (25 September) marks ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, after which date humanity begins to live beyond its ecological means for 2009, according to the Global Footprint Network, an NGO. As of tomorrow, the world will be living at an ecological deficit, consuming natural resources more quickly than the planet can regenerate them over 365 days.

This year, the world used nature’s entire capacity for 2009 in less than ten months, surpassing the limit today. "For the rest of the year, we are accumulating debt by depleting our natural capital and letting waste accumulate," according to the Global Footprint Network.

This year, the world is using 40% more resources than the Earth can regenerate itself, and 1.4 planets would be required to support our current lifestyles.

Developed by a UK foundation, Earth Overshoot Dayimage0011 marks the day when the world’s total ecological footprint equals the biocapacity that nature can regenerate in that year.

Examples of overshooting include cutting down trees more quickly than they can re-grow, catching fish at a faster rate than they reproduce and releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere than the planet can absorb.

First overshoot in 1986

While overshooting is manageable for a short while, repeated overshoots deplete the resources upon which our economy depends and add to the Earth’s ‘ecological debt’.

According to the Global Footprint Network, humanity first went into overshoot in 1986. Before, we "consumed resources and produced carbon dioxide at a rate consistent with what the planet could produce and reabsorb".

By 1996, the Earth Overshoot Day was falling November, indicating 15% overuse of nature’s capacity.

Two planets needed by 2030

The biannual Living Planet Reportimage002 image0011by the Global Footprint Network, WWF and the Zoological Society of London, published late last year, indicated that growing populations are putting so much pressure on the Earth’s natural resources that two planets will be required by the early 2030s if current lifestyles are to be maintained.

Considering the uneven distribution of natural resources, the report’s findings suggest that most people now live in nations which are ecological debtors, covering their excess demand by importing resources from other countries.

In the EU, the total ecological footprint is twice the size of the region’s biocapacity, with the UK and Spain, for example, running an ecological deficit greater than 150%.


European Union


More on this topic:

image003News: Europe ‘unaware’ of its water footprint

image003News: Report: Demand on nature reaching critical proportions

Other related news:

"Regulating by carbon trading is like fiddling as Rome burns. Governments and the UN should impose a carbon tax on corporations, both for production – wherever their facilities are located – and for transport, which the Kyoto Protocol does not account for directly. Incentives for renewable energy are also essential. We face a stark choice: we can destroy the conditions for human life on the planet by clinging to ‘free-market’ fundamentalism, or we can secure our future by bringing commerce within the laws of ecological sustainability and social justice ."

Vandana Shiva, leading author and activist in India, member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Organic Consumers Association


~ by Cory Morningstar on September 28, 2009.

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