Earth Overshoot Day
August 13, 2015
Our lifestyle is not sustainable. In fact, it hasn’t been since the 1970’s when human demands on nature began far exceeding the ability of the Earth to replenish its natural resources. We now live in a state of global ecological overshoot: allowing carbon dioxide to accumulate in the atmosphere, polluting our air and water ways, and causing natural landscapes to wilt into deserts and icecaps to melt into seas.
Today is Earth Overshoot Day. It marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year.
Overshoot is driven by four key factors: 1) how much we consume, 2) how efficiently products are made, 3) how many of us there are, and 4) how much nature’s ecosystems are able to produce. Technology and more intensive inputs have helped expand biological productivity over the years, but that expansion has not come close to keeping pace with the rate at which population and resource demand have expanded.
Andrew Simms originally conceived the concept while working at the UK think tank New Economics Foundation. Each year Overshoot Day is adjusted to account for new technology and accurate national footprint data. This year, Earth Overshoot Day lies 6 days earlier than in 2014.
If we continue operating on a business as usual course estimated by moderate United Nations projections for increasing population and consumption, Global Footprint Network data show that we would need the capacity of two Earths to keep up with our level of demand by 2030! Whether such continued levels of overuse are physically possible is highly uncertain. Staying on this course would put the well-being of many of the planet’s residents increasingly at risk.
As climate negotiations gear up for the UNFCC Cop 21 talks that aim to set limits on country greenhouse gas emissions will set the tone for action plans. Earth Overshoot Day shows our trend of overconsumption of natural resources—and it must be stopped. It’s up to us to call on world leaders to agree to a legally binding climate agreement. But you can make a change too—find out your carbon footprint and start living sustainable life today.