The Global Footprint Network declared August 2, 2017 as this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. This is the day when humanity is said to have exhausted nature’s budget for the year. It’s the date when our demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. “Ecological resources and services” includes products we take from our lands and oceans – food, fish, water, timber, minerals… – but also the net atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases.
Earth Overshoot Day seems to arrive a bit earlier every year.
The Global Footprint Network also provides an individual Footprint Calculator so you can estimate how many “planets” it takes to support your lifestyle.
Whether these calculations have scientific precision or not, they bring home the fact that humanity is using up important resources more quickly than these can be renewed (if at all, in some cases). It’s a reminder that what we take and cannot give back represents a serious deprivation for future generations. Depravation, along with climate change, will translate – is already translating – into poverty, conflict, war, crises and refugees, burdens made worse by being unevenly distributed among populations and generations.
So why don’t you go ahead and take the quiz, and then think about how you might reduce your own ecological footprint.
And don’t forget the larger vision: what would it take for your locality, your nation, and the world to live within its ecological means?