August 21: The day we “overshot” the Earth

earth-overshoot-logo-no-yearToday is August 21, 2010.  As of this day, we, as a global community, have just used up all the natural resources that our planet can produce in one year. Tomorrow, well… we start accumulating debt and we all know what a bummer being in debt is.  Humanity currently uses the equivalent of 1.4 planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste, according to Global Footprint Network. This means it now takes the Earth one year and five months to regenerate what we use in a year. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in a global “overshoot”, depleting the very resources upon which we depend as a species.

And, think about this:  That 1.4 planet statistic is a global average.  If everyone lived like we do here in the US, we would need the equivalent of 5 planets.  India (.4 Earths)  and China (1 Earth) are WAY behind us. We are consuming much more than our share.

Overshoot results in obvious problems, like overfishing, diminishing forests and depletion of fresh water systems, as well as a build up of pollution and waste.  Many people don’t realize that our consumption also leads to resource conflicts like war, mass migrations, famine and disease, which overwhelmingly affect the poor and disenfranchised.

Since we only have one Earth (says the wombat), it would probably be a good idea to recognize its natural limits and to find new ways to live within those boundaries.  We need to hold a vision of our humanity where we consider these limits in our decision making at a personal, community and global level.  Knowing your own ecological footprint is a great way to start. Consider this quote…

“Better sign the papers while the Earth is still willing to make a deal.”

Stephen Jay Gould, Paleontologist


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