In approximately nine months, we have already demanded a level of ecological services equivalent to what the planet can provide for all of 2011. From an ecological standpoint, we have effectively spent our annual salary, with a quarter of the year still to go.
“From soaring food prices to the crippling effects of climate change, our economies are now confronting the reality of years of spending beyond our means,” said Global Footprint Network President Dr. Mathis Wackernagel. “If we are to maintain stable societies and good lives, we can no longer sustain a widening budget gap between what nature is able to provide and how much our infrastructure, economies and lifestyles require.”
This year, Earth Overshoot Day comes as the United Nations (UN) is projecting the human population of the Earth to reach 7 billion sometime in late October. Global Footprint Network’s calculations show we are now using resources at a rate it would take between 1.2 and 1.5 planets to sustainably support. If we continue on the course estimated by moderate UN projections for increasing population and consumption, before the middle of this century we will need the capacity of two Earths to keep up with our level of demand.
“Providing good lives for the world’s people is certainly possible — but it will not be possible using the resource-intensive development and growth models we have pursued in the past,” said Global Footprint Network Director of Research and Standards Dr. Juan Carlos Morales. “That means finding new models of progress and prosperity that limit demand on ecological assets. It also means maintaining the resources we have left as an ongoing source of wealth rather than liquidating them for fast cash.”
If we are to survive we must move from the current ‘normal’ way of thinking, in which resources are treated as limitless, to one in which they are as prudently spent and carefully managed as financial reserves.
Learn more about Earth Overshoot Day. Please, for all our sakes.