The World's Biocapacity Shows We're Headed Towards Using Earth's Yearly Resources In 6 Months
Mother Earth has plenty of resources, but in comparison to the rest of its inhabitants, the human species is headed towards a lopsided consumption in a way we've never witnessed in history. There's still four months to go in the year, but as of August 13th, the Earth has already used up its resources for 2015, and it happened six days earlier than 2014. Researchers are estimating that at our current consumption patterns and if they continue apace by 2030, we will be consuming Earth's yearly resources in just six months.
This is according to a series of annual reports used to calculate the calendar date when humanity's annual resource consumption exceeds the planet's ability to replace them within the year.
If everyone on the planet lived the lifestyle of the average American, we would need 5 planets.
But it's not just the United States. Now 86% of the world’s population lives in countries where the demands made on nature - the nation’s "ecological footprint" - outstrip what that country’s resources can cope with.
Humanity's footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003, and this isn't the first time the planet has gone into 'ecological debt'.
Biocapacity per person varies each year with ecosystem management, agricultural practices (such as fertilizer use and irrigation), ecosystem degradation, and weather, and population size.
It's happened numerous times since the 1970s. The day is called "Earth Overshoot Day" and it fell on August 13 this year.
The calculation looks at the farmland, fresh water, waste, carbon absorption, and trees cut down around the world, and compares this data to what the planet can renew in the year.
(WORLD BIOCAPACITY / WORLD ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT)
X 365 = Ecological Debt Day
The equation is calculated by the Global Footprint Network think-tank, and data suggests it is happening earlier as the human population expands.
Throughout the 1970s, the day typically occurred in December, advancing to November by the 1980s, September by the 2000s, and now August.
"Humanity's carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet's biocapacity," Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network, says in a statement.
Still, some industry watchers are confident humanity can turn things around.
"We are encouraged by the recent developments on the front line of renewable energy, which have been accelerating worldwide, and by the increasing awareness of the finance industry that a low-carbon economy is the way of the future," Wackernagel says.
"Going forward, we cannot stress enough the vital importance of reducing the carbon footprint."