Overshot! Earth Overshoot Day will arrive earlier than ever this year

Looking down at a plant growing on cracked soil. Photo taken during the dry season in Thakhek, Laos

Earth Overshoot Day is an estimation of the day in the year when the human race has consumed more natural resources and created more waste than Earth can replace or safely absorb in that year.

The concept is designed to make citizens and decision-makers aware of the urgency to address climate issues that can seem distant in time and place.

According to Global Footprint Network, an international environmental research organisation, it has taken an unprecedented 212 days this year to reach Earth Overshoot Day. By August 1st we will have consumed our annual budget of earthly resources .

The date is calculated by drawing data from the United Nations, the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among others.

To maintain our current appetite for resources, we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.

In 1970, the first year it was evaluated, the day fell on 29 December. In 1988 it was 5th October.

The UK is consuming at 2.9 times the earth’s capacity. If all countries consumed resources at the same rate they would be depleted by May 8th this year.

The United States has an even poorer record. It is calculated the 317 million people in the USA use all of their native resources by March 15th. To continue consuming at current levels indefinitely, the U.S. would need the resources of five Earths.

Ever greater food production, mineral extraction, forest clearance and fossil-fuel burning are increasing soil erosion, water shortages and climate disruption.

According to the group large scale political action is the most effective way to address this trend. Individual action is less effective.

Replacing 50% of meat consumption, by a wider adoption of vegetarian diet, would delay the overshoot date by only five days. Building and industry could make a difference of three weeks by improving effeciency. Reducing the output of carbon dioxide emissions by 50% would give an extra three months of breathing space.

What is your ecological Footprint? Find out. http://www.footprintcalculator.org/

Earth Overshoot Day | Global Footprint Network

Soil Erosion and Degradation | WWF

Four billion people face severe water scarcity, new research finds | The Guardian

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth | The Guardian

New research suggests tropical forests are now a net source of carbon emissions | Mongabay

Where have all the insects gone? | Science Mag

What’s the Environmental Footprint of a T-Shirt? | The Smithsonian