We have blasted through our annual budget of earthly resources by the earliest date on record this year, according to environmental research organisation Global Footprint Network.
Earth Overshoot Day, which tracks when the demand on nature exceeds what the planet’s ecosystems can renew, has arrived today (1 August) – two days earlier than last year. Thirty years ago, the date was 15 October and in 1970, the first year it was tracked, the day fell on 29 December.
The data found that if the world consumed resources at the same rates as the UK, they would be depleted by May 8 this year – as we’d be consuming at 2.9 times the earth’s capacity.
The biggest environmental effects from this depletion of resources are soil erosion, water shortages and climate disruption. According to trends it’s thought that next year our resources could be used up by July, just over halfway through the year.
Due to the seriousness of the situation, large scale political action is needed, according to experts. The impact of certain industry’s carbon footprint and energy efficiency could push back an overshoot day by up to three months.
That being said, individual lifestyle changes like cutting down on your meat and dairy consumption can’t hurt.
“Today may seem no different from yesterday — you still have the same food in your refrigerator,” said Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel. “But fires are raging in the Western United States and in Cape Town, South Africa, residents have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet.
Wackernagel continued: “We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt. It’s time to leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction.”
A Friends of the Earth spokesperson said: “Our planet isn’t a limitless bank of resources. We can’t simply dip into an overdraft and pay it back later - natural resources – from trees, to water, to metal – are being gobbled up faster than the Earth can replenish them.
“We’re also struggling to cope with the waste and pollution of all the things we use. We take too much stuff from nature, make it into more stuff– from throw-away plastics to the latest smart phones and fast-fashion – and then, too often, dispose of it carelessly.
“It’s time we take a more sustainable approach to our natural resources to make sure they’re there for us in the future. We need everything from fashion to technology to be designed with longevity in mind – reducing what we don’t need, using things for longer and then, when we’re finally done with them, recycling them into something new.”