Nature has a budget — it can only produce so many resources and absorb so much waste every year. The problem is, our demand for nature’s services is exceeding what it can provide.
In 2009, humanity used about 40 percent more than nature can regenerate in 2010. Using resources faster than they can regenerate and creating waste such as CO2 faster than it can be absorbed is called ‘ecological overshoot’. We currently maintain this overshoot by liquidating the planet’s natural resources. For example, we cut trees faster than they re-grow; we catch fish at a rate faster than they can repopulate.
Humanity first went into overshoot around 1980. In all the millennia before that time the global community consumed resources and produced carbon dioxide at a rate consistent with what the planet could produce and reabsorb.
Almost three decades since we first went into overshoot, we are now demanding resources at a rate 40 percent faster than the planet can produce them.
We’re using more Earths than we have. We can either find more planets soon and haul them back here to use up (!), or decide to start looking at, and adjusting, the way we live our lives — preferably before nature steps in and makes those decisions for us.
See Global Footprint Network for more information.