Friday, 25 September 2009

Earth Overshoot Day 2009

According to the Ecological Footprint Network (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/) today is Earth Overshoot Day.

The earth can only produce a certain amount of resources and absorb a certain amount of waste each year. Any resource consumption or waste produced above this level is unsustainable. Year on year, we use more resources than the earth can produce and we produce more waste than the earth can absorb in that year. So, between 1st January 2009 and today, we have used up all the resources the planet can sustainably produce in an entire year: from today we are living on ecological credit. And we still have more than three months to go till the end of the year. Any householder can see that this is ridiculously unsustainable.

We first went into overshoot in 1986. By 1996 we had a 15% greater demand than the planet could meet and now our demand is around 40% greater than the planet can meet in one year.

Overshoot Day shows the day on which our total ecological footprint (measured in hectares) is equal to the biocapacity (also measured in hectares) which can be regenerated in 1 year. It is calculated by multiplying the ratio of available global biocapacity to global ecological footprint by 365, which gives the day of the year when we go into overshoot. (See here for more info http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/earth_overshoot_day/#calc).

Earth Overshoot Day 2009 is only one day later than last year. The global economic slowdown has not really cut our demand. And according to calculations by the Global Footprint Network, we have been moving 4-6 days closer to January 1st each year.

Earth Overshoot Day is yet another indicator that our overconsumption is killing us. As I have said on this blog many times, we MUST reduce our demands on the planet and there MUST be a more equitable distribution of resources and responsibilities. We in the developed world bear prime responsibility for this ecological debt and need to face up to that fact, both as nations and as individuals. Each of us must take individual responsibility for reducing our own ecological footprint.

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