Earth Overshoot Day highlights yearly overconsumption of resources

Posted at 6:43 AM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 14:15:39-04

(RNN) - Wednesday marks Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humankind has consumed more natural resources than the Earth can replenish throughout the rest of the year. 

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by determining the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity - or the amount of resources the Earth is able to generate in a year - can satisfy the ever-increasing demands of humans.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day is the earliest date yet for any year studied. For instance, in 2007, Earth Overshoot Day fell on Aug. 15, and in 1997, it arrived on Sept. 30.

"Our planet is finite, but human possibilities are not. Living within the means of one planet is technologically possible, financially beneficial, and our only chance for a prosperous future,” said Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, in a news release. “We hope our new Footprint Calculator enables millions more people around the world to explore sustainability solutions and gain an uplifting sense of the possibilities available to society.”  

This year, humanity will use an estimated 1.7 Earths worth of resources - things like food, energy, timber and other natural resources, Global Footprint Network said.

Overconsumption of the Earth's resources takes its toll on the planet in many ways, including deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

People can make a difference in managing humanity's demands on the planet, including lessening food waste, changing the way cities operate and getting energy from renewable sources, among other big-picture ideas.

People can take think globally and act locally by using a footprint calculator, figuring out how their environmental footprint and taking action to reduce it.

Global Footprint Network, an international environmental think tank, tracks and calculates resource consumption using data drawn primarily from the United Nations. It works with more than 30 partners, including the World Wildlife Fund.

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