25 September 2009

Today is Earth Overshoot Day

It is well-known that we are using up the Earth's resources faster than they can be replenished. In order to remind us of that fact, the Global Footprint Network has created the concept of Earth Overshoot Day, "the day when humanity begins living beyond its ecological means."

This year, Earth Overshoot Day occurs today, Friday, September 25th. Tomorrow, according to the Network, "we move into the ecological equivalent of deficit spending, utilizing resources at a rate faster than what the planet can regenerate in a calendar year."

By the Network's calculations, we first went into overshoot in 1986. Until then we were consuming resources and producing waste consistent with what the planet could produce and reabsorb. By 1996, we were using 15 percent more resources per year than the planet could supply. Now, we use up resources 40 percent faster than the planet can produce them. We are devouring the Earth.

Today is a good day to pause and reflect on our dissolute ways. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the First World live a life of great indulgence. None of us, I think, would want our young people to be the last, or perhaps the second last, generation to enjoy this life. But that's the direction we are headed. The reminder from the Global Footprint Network is timely indeed.

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