NBC News reported Saturday that humans are using up Earth’s resources at an increasingly quicker pace than ever before. According to the Global Footprint Network, Earth is nearing its overshoot day, which aims to estimate the day in which humans use up more of Earth’s natural resources than the planet can replace. This year, Earth’s Overshoot Day is August 1, which is significantly earlier than the last dozen years. Ecologists claim this is due to Earth’s recent increase in greenhouse gases.
The CEO of Global Footprint Network, Mathis Wackernagel, commented, “Fires are raging in the Western United States. On the other side of the world, residents in Cape Town have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. There are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet.”
The Global Footprint Network determined the first overshoot day in 2006, which was estimated to be October 9 of that year. Using data from the UN, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the International Energy Agency, the network is able to produce various land estimates that tally the planet’s overall biocapacity.
According to the GFN, “The Aug. 1 date declared this year means that, for the final five months of the year, mankind is overdrawing natural resources. Framed another way, it would take 1.7 Earths to supply the resources needed to feed, clothe and sustain Earth’s 7.6 billion people for a year.”
The GFN has also calculated that the United States has an average consumption of 8.4 hectares per person, while the average biocapacity is only 3.6 hectares for each individual, adding that the U.S. will use up all of its natural resources by March 15. Other nations and continents, however, have a reserve of resources.
Suriname, for example, “has a biocapacity of 97 hectares per person, but each of its 496,000 inhabitants only uses 2.7 hectares, on average, annually. So the tiny nation produces a large 94.6 hectares of reserve.” Suriname, however, is still plagued by excess carbon dioxide production.
British political economist, Andrew Simms, explains the reason behind this vast contrast between the North and South American countries mentioned above. “The wealthiest countries, in particular, depend on a much larger land base than they have themselves to enjoy the material lifestyles they are accustomed to,” Simms said.
Wackernagel, however, insists that the GFN’s overshoot date is a “conservative” prediction, ultimately underestimating the anthropogenic impact on the planet Earth, adding that the date should also provide people with a sense of urgency to find more sustainable solutions.