25 August 2010

Earth Overshoot Day arrives a month earlier

Last Saturday, August 21st, was Earth Overshoot Day. Each year, the international think tank Global Footprint Network calculates the day on which we humans have consumed as many of the Earth's natural resources as it can provide in a full year. Every year that day, "the day when humanity begins living beyond its ecological means," falls earlier, this year a full month earlier than last 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 are using almost 50 per cent more. We are devouring the Earth.

Earth Overshoot Day is a good day to pause and reflect on our profligate ways. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the First World live a life of great indulgence. Unfortunately, our indulgence is imposing an ever-increasing ecological debt on future generations. We are enjoying our way of life largely at the cost of theirs. This reminder from the Global Footprint Network is timely indeed.

To calculate your own ecological footprint, go to http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill. I've been following "overshoot day" since I first heard of it in 2006 when it was an alarming 9 October. Then it fell to 25 September last year. This year it's August 21?

    What these figures show is that we are indeed eating our 'seed corn.' Each year the rate at which we begin falling into deficit accelerates.

    If my memory is correct, it was last year that Britain exhausted its annual renewables on Easter Sunday. After that the Brits began consuming other nation's resources, buying food and goods from other, already less well off countries. It sent the Brit enviro secretary, Miliband, into action, calling for Brits to cut waste and become more self-reliant, particularly in improving British agriculture. At the time, Miliband warned the British people that it is highly dangerous for them to rely on a steady supply of foreign products.

    Yet do we hear a peep about this from any of our supposed leaders? Not a word, just as they're doing nothing to raise public awareness about climate change, the first essential step to evaluation, planning and implementation of remediation and adaptation measures. For their own purposes they've lulled us into lethal complacency.