Today is Earth Overshoot Day. Happy Earth Overshoot Day! Except, well, we don't much feel like celebrating.
That's because Earth Overshoot Day is the day each year when we've consumed natural resources at a rate beyond which our planet can replenish, and have produced more waste than can be reabsorbed, according to the Global Footprint Network, a think tank based in the U.S., Switzerland, and Belgium.
The holiday was originally conceived of by Andrew Simms, of the U.K. think tank New Economics Foundation. This year, it falls on August 20, two days (or three, depending on the calculations) earlier than it came last year, following a relatively steady trend since 2001: falling about three days earlier each year. (Humanity first went into overshoot in 1970; that year, Earth Overshoot Day fell on December 29.)
Today, according to the Global Footprint Network, more than 80 percent of the world's population lives in countries that use more than their ecosystems can renew. Some of the bigger offenders: Japan consumes 7.1 Japans worth of resources; Italy, four; and Egypt, 2.4. China's ecological footprint is the largest (they would need 2.5 Chinas to accommodate their population)--though the per capita footprint is smaller than many European or North American countries.
To calculate the date, the Global Footprint Network figures out how many days of a particular year the Earth's biocapacity can provide for the total ecological footprint. So, world biocapacity divided by world ecological footprint times 365 equals Earth Overshoot Day. The think tank calculates biocapacity by looking at the amount of productive area (both land and sea) available to provide resources and to absorb wastes under the constraints of current technology and management practices. A country has an ecological reserve if its footprint is smaller than its biocapacity, and likewise, if its footprint exceeds biocapacity, it is an ecological debtor.
The Global Footprint Network notes that the date is an approximation. The precision of the exact date is limited by aggregated country datasets, but still shows that humans are using the Earth at a rate that is unsustainable, year after year. To read about more environmental holidays, go here.
Setting aside the arguments of human induced global warming is happening, which I believe it is, I am really glad this perspective from this article is being said, too.
They have certainly done a good job of obfuscating their data and methodology to determine this.
I'm not saying it isn't happening, but based on their site, I'm skeptical.
Wouldn't this be a self-correcting problem though? Nature is self-balancing. When the Earth is no longer capable of supporting us, our population will decline. That hasn't happened yet (though it most certainly will at some point unless some major change occurs in how we reproduce or produce/consume resources)
There is something to be said about fertility rates around the world. In 3rd world countries, women have many more children, knowing that they aren't guaranteed to all live to adulthood. In developed countries the population increase levels off, with many (myself included) deciding not to have children at all. Bringing all countries up to a base standard of living might do something to slow our population growth, or even cause a reversal.
Just pray to God he will take care of us.
(1) The assumption is that the Earth produces and reconsumes things at a steady rate. For example, a trash heap in Flordia (humid and warm) degrades much faster than a modern landfill in Maine (cold and dry).
Thus, the trash of the Earth conscious New Englander might take decades to be reclaimed, while the backyard trash pile behind a Flordia trailerpark is reabsorbed almost yearly (though decomp, rust, and racoon).
(2) This assumes that the Earth is no longer storing potential. Clearly we are not consuming the entire output of the planet - we are consuming previous output that has been stored (in the form of fossil fuels). Most of the current planetary output still occurs outside of the realm of man's agriculture.
What we do not know is where that previous output is going. Sure, we know it turns into CO2, but that CO2 is reintegrated into either the manmade agricultural food system or the natural system. That increase in available CO2 in the system might be NECESSARY to unlocking increade agricultural returns through the future and increasing the output of the planet (in the same way that taking money from the bank and spending it increases the capital in the economic system).
(3) It does not take into account current or future advancements in agriculture. Again, assuming a sub-optimized Earth potential. Needing two Earths seems doable, considering in the last 200 years farmland has been reduced why capacity has greatly increased.
Here we go again. More nonsense from the usual over-agitated, chronic worriers. Don't let facts get in the way of a hysterical story. Please up your dosage of Xanax. Now to the debunking.
The earth can easily sustain the current population of 7.1 billion. By around 2050 there will be 9 to 11 billion before global population begins to decline (it's already declining in most modern post-industrial countries). Yes, earth can also sustain 11 billion quite easily. It likely can sustain several times as many, but we're never going to reach that amount.
Japan sustains it's population very well. How? They import what they can't produce themselves, as does just about every country on earth. Amazing how a free market and cooperation for mutual benefit works. America is a net exporter of corn , rice and wheat and other countries buy it. Saudi Arabia is a net exporter of oil and other countries buy it. See how that works?
Food production technology continues to improve worldwide as does energy production. We feed more, produce more energy, and use it more efficiently than at anytime in the history of humankind and the trend will continue toward more efficiency, and thus "sustainability".
There actually are a couple areas where we do indeed, overuse resources, but again, the trend is toward solving those problems. Overfishing of the oceans is a real problem. Aquaculture is improving rapidly to address those concerns. Water resources are being depleted in many countries, but technology and more efficient use of water is mitigating those problems. Depletion of forests and associated erosion and environmental damage in developing countries is a concern. (In post-industrial countries, people preserve and replant forests.) The good news is trees are a renewable resource and can be replanted. Better agricultural techniques that accompany rising wealth lead to better land management.
People are amazing at solving their own problems, even collectively on a global scale, without any need for the pointy-haired government bosses and chronic worriers who want to control us all with their wild-eyed social schemes.
You mention some of the "bigger" offenders and go on to cite a few. It would be interesting to see the top ten. With a population likely to beat China very shortly, I wonder how India doesn't figure at all. I would easily imagine it to nearly top the charts. China, too, isn't the topper. Is there something to these economies and lifestyle or is the calculation biased against the 'western' world?
Oak, there's more than enough CO2 in the atmosphere for the limited agriculture potential. Beyond that is being absorbed into the oceans and raising the ppm of the atmosphere. Both are warming.
Ppardee, we know your positions already and that you don't agree with the science.
Winsor, praying to god is pretty much the equivalent of doing nothing. We should do something more productive...
Lauren, how do you think people go about addressing a problem? They first observe and discuss the problem. Why is pointing that out here an issue for you? You seem to want to say, "don't look at this information. It's some kind of pointy-haired propaganda." If people AREN'T concerned about an issue, they're not going to be very motivated to solve it, are they?
Frosttty, "people" have been solving all these problems for a long time. The people at Global Footprint Network aren't problem solvers, they're worriers. The problem solvers are engineers, agronomists, entrepreneurs, fishermen, farmers, bakers; everyday people who see a way to improve something and often make a buck doing it. The Global Footprint Network acolytes are technocrats who only know how to fiddle with numbers. They can't even measure well as their annual reports show. They aren't producing technology to improve water resources in Africa. They aren't recycling waste. They aren't teaching farming techniques to help impoverished people in Third World countries. They're petty bureaucrats who want to order people around. Get it?
Yeah...scientists don't contribute anything. They're just a "cabal" making fat-cat bucks looking to protect their income of major dough. But those people in the oil and coal industry, they're the ones really benefiting humanity and don't have a vested interest in making money or protecting the image of their product. Makes sense to me... Thanks for being so enlightening, Lauren.
Frostty, Global Footprint Network bases their conclusions on what they call "ecological footprint" and "biocapacity". Biocapacity is what GFN decides a country is capable of sustaining within in its own borders. Ecological footprint is what GFN decides the population "should" be to fit the biocapacity of a given country.
But the real world doesn't work that way. As I pointed out, Japan supports a lot more people than GFN thinks it should have because it imports resources it doesn't have by buying it through exporting goods that other countries want. That's how a global economy works. GFN isn't dealing with the real world, it's dealing with its own dream of a Utopian world. How can people like this every actually discover real problems and offer real solutions? Answer: they can't.
And GFN doesn't need to worry about Japan's ecological-footpring-to-biocapacity ratio much longer because their population is in rapid, worrisome decline.
Um, Frostty, Global Footprint Network isn't a group of scientists. It's a think tank. And, FYI, no one's knocking scientists. Norman Borlaug, the agronomist credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, was a scientist. Often advances are not made by scientists but by engineers, inventors and everyday people.
The problem will be solved. The question is whether it will be by sound science, or by a mass cull, likely a resistant disease. My question to you is, do you have antibiotics that kill resistant bacteria's and viruses? I do, i have nearly 50 different organic antibiotics, and all i ever get is slag from online posters when i share it. So thanks, i will keep my "fringe science" to myself and not have to put up with negative neddies if there ever is another global plague. (a real one, not the BS swine flu)
Engineers are scientists too, btw. Think applied physics. Also, the use of the scientific method isn't reserved exclusively to "scientists". To add to that, although it's not perfect, due to the human element, it's the best system we have. It doesn't agree with you, so you bash it as I've seen you and others do before. You get all in a huff that the scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that humans are causing global warming and the resultant climate change. You have about two websites that you quote from, but ignore the expert climatogists and their vast data and conclusions derived thereof. NOBODY is in a panic about this. Those who accept the fact that the climates are changing are focused on not making things worse and adapting to the change. The Earth will be here longer than the likes of you or I, but our system of infrastructure for food and water is tenuous.
Now, I don't know who GFN is, but we can all agree that there is a limit to what the Earth can produce as far as exploitable resources go and there's going to be a point where we're surpassing that. Agreed? Even if we're not overexploiting the resources, I think we all can agree that it's safer to err on the side of caution.
Regardless if anyone believes this or the global warming thing, but something has to be done. We can't wait until the last minute. It's better to be proactive than reactive.
We need to set up a law saying only one child pr. man and woman for many hundred years! Or else the earth will be a dense nightmare! This would be the first step! We can`t let more people onto our boat called earth or else it will sink!
The PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere is historically precidented in previous epochs, so is hardly worrying.
As for the free carbon acidifying the ocean, why would that be worrying? The acidity is neutralized by the dissolution of Calcium - which might be harmful to clams and coral, is beneficial to other species (note that the era where cartiledge fish, like sharks, developed was a high free carbon era which gave them an advantage over the various shellfish that dominated earlier oceans).
Likewise, when that carbon is needed, that calcium will be freed up once again. The fact that so much of the world is covered with (A) limestone and (b) fossil fuel, speaks highly of this system's scope and its ability to regulate itself on a global scale.
In other words - there is no evidence that the world is not perfectly capable of self sustaining and sustaining life. The worst we can do is make it less comfortable for ourselves.
Population density is a problem. Its not about what the earth can possibly sustain or what scientists and engineers can do to continue food and energy for a massive population. It is about the fact that most humans, especially women, feel a need to procreate. Its an instinctive need and logic of population density and resources are applied when deciding to have a child. For the poor, it is their only god given gift to be able have a child. The psychology of humans is what needs to change to curb population increase.
I know some have mentioned what we do to this planet when reach such large numbers. We deforest for everything from toilet paper to wood for infrastructure and what the article hints to is that, and I use foresting as an example, that we can't create and grow trees fast enough to meet the paper demands of 10 billion person population. We are generating trash at a huge rate as well.
This will sound elitist, and I don't intend it to be that way but, since the elite control the governments of the world, and big pharma, this solution will most likely be governed by them.
Here goes... a virus that attacks the "female" reproductive system. It shuts it down. Why female? Because the female could artificially inseminate and thus have a baby without the need for a male reproductive system. Make it infect everyone! The most contagious virus ever.
Now, of course we will have a cure. A complex, TEMPORARY and expensive cure. One very closely guarded. In fact, you can only get this temporary cure, that allows you to get pregnant for a short period of time, if you meet certain prerequisites. Much like buying a house you must have enough money in the bank, have enough to feed, clothe, school and provide medical for your child. Once you have met prerequisites then you get to have a child. A closely monitored system.
Does that suck for poor people? Yes it does. However, they are the greatest offenders of population increase. They have nothing else to do but F**k all the time. Humans are not going to control their own population and if governments start to see that population is becoming too much of an issue, they will take other measures to solve the problem. Maybe they guide a meteor into a major population without anyone knowing? Not a planet killer, mind you, maybe just a few small ones that are big enough to take a few billion.
I hate to think in these extremes but why must inflate our population to such a large number? There is no reason for it. The sadder part is that WE humans can't control ourselves. We can't control our consumption, our population... why is that?
I don't think all people are cattle but I do think a large majority of the "8.3 Billion" on this planet are in that category. Concerned with only themselves and their needs and not giving a shit about this planet. What wake up call will we need?
@Frostty... why do you simply argue with people? Do you have an argument on the issue? A side? Please tell us what it is. We would love to read something interesting on the subject come from you. Some research or some point of view? Desperately waiting you argumentative POS.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
"... Its an instinctive need and logic of population density and resources are NOT applied when deciding to have a child."
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
The Obama Administration has been spending over $1 trillion more per year than it collects in revenues. The unsustainable rate of federal debt being created by the Obama Administration's fiscal policies will result in a collapse of global society long before the Earth runs out of natural resources.
And this is why Earth loves gay people.