Today, July 29, 2019, the Earth Overshoot Day. This means that we are now consuming more energy and resources than the earth can regenerate.
By Hamza Guessous and Juliette Owen-Jones
Rabat – A study carried out by the Global Footprint Network shows that humanity has depleted, in just 7 months, all of its share of natural resources such as water, soil, and clean air for the year. This means that the earth’s population is currently consuming the resources of future generations.
The Earth Overshoot Day fell this year on July 29, which is the earliest date ever, according to a report from the Global Footprint Network. The Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s level of consumption exceeds the amount of natural resources the earth can regenerate.
The environmental group stated that humans have consumed 1.75 more natural resources in 2019 than the earth can regenerate.
“Earth Overshoot Day falling on July 29 means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.75 Earths,” said Global Footprint Network in a statement.
The group’s calculations take into account the amount of water, land, fish, and forests we use as well as how much CO2 we’re pumping into the atmosphere.
The NGO added that this over consumption of natural resources will lead to climate change which could cause extreme weather events such as the heatwave Europe is currently experiencing.
“The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events,” the report added.
Earth Overshoot Day
The first calculated Earth Overshoot Day was in 1986. The date has been falling earlier each year.
In 1993, Earth Overshoot Day fell on October 21, in 2003 on September 22, and in 2017 on August 2.
This graph published by the group this year shows the stark contrast year by year best:
The precise Earth Overshoot Day date for each year is less significant than the sheer magnitude of ecological overshoot. Over the last decades, the date has been creeping up the calendar, although at a slowing rate. https://t.co/ZwrDagJt5K #MoveTheDate pic.twitter.com/i4gM0pk5Mk
— Footprint Network (@EndOvershoot) July 28, 2019
“We have only got one Earth this is the ultimately defining context for human existence. We can’t use 1.75 (earths) without destructive consequences,” said Mathis Wackernagel, founder of Global Footprint Network.
The Global Footprint Network also analyses the amount of resources each country is individually using.
Morocco impressively almost makes it to the end of the year before having its own overshoot day, estimated to be on December 16. Qatar, in comparison, burns through the replenishable resources for the year by February 11.
The group also examines how many earths we would need if the whole world’s population lived like one individual county.
The environmental group has launched a campaign, ‘#MoveTheDate’, proposing solutions aimed at moving back the date to limit consumption to one-year of natural resources annually.
Among the solutions, cutting CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels by 50% would help to move back the date by 93 days. Emissions from burning fossil fuels contribute significantly to global warming.
“The past does not necessarily determine our future. Our current choices do. Through wise, forward-looking decisions, we can turn around natural resource consumption trends while improving the quality of life for all people,” says the group.
“While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other.”
“The good news is that this transformation is not only technologically possible, it is also economically beneficial and our best chance for a prosperous future.”
The group recommends changes in 5 areas: “cities, energy, food, planet, and population.”
Cities must be built to be more compact rather than sprawling, there must be a move towards renewable energy, and awareness must be spread over how we produce, distribute and consume food, says the group.
Finally, efforts must be put into conservation, reforestation, regenerative farming for the sake of the planet, and the population growth must be reduced through the empowerment of women and through family planning.
The NGO has also launched the #MoveTheDate Solutions Map where people are invited to share their solutions for a better sustainable future. Users can propose their solutions in the form of a comment and start a conversation with other conservationists.