Ecological Debt Day

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Ecological Debt Day, also known as “Earth Overshoot Day”, is the calendar date each year in which the total resources consumed by humanity will exceed the capacity for the Earth to generate those resources that year. It is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity, the number of natural resources generated by the earth that year, by the world Ecological Footprint, humanity’s consumption of the Earth’s natural resources for that year, and multiplied by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian calendar year; expressed as:

[ world biocapacity / world Ecological Footprint ] x 365 = Ecological Debt Day

So, Ecological Debt Day is a big deal. The sad reality is that, on average, Ecological Debt Day has fallen on an earlier day each year.

Year   Overshoot Date
1987   December 19
1990   December 7
1995   November 21
2000   November 1
2005   October 20
2007   October 26
2008   September 23
2009   September 25
2010   August 21
2011   September 27
2012  August 22
2013   ?????

We’re looking at exhausting Earth’s budget for a year in a time span of 8 months. It currently takes us 1.51  planets to get through a year here on our one planet. If everyone lived like an average United States citizen it would take 4.16 planets to fulfill our wants. Ultimately, this can go on for a short period of time, but resources will eventually be depleted.

I decided I would take a look at my Ecological foot print (Calculator here). I figured I’d be okay. I don’t own a car. Don’t eat animal products as often as an average individual. I ride my bike as my primary form of transportation. I recycle and produce extremely little waste. Surprisingly, I found that it takes 3.6 planets to provide for my lifestyle.

We are reducing the planet’s capacity to support life. Nearly every life-supporting system on the planet is in decline. Yes, we can make changes and allow the Earth to support 12+ billion of us. However, at our current rate, the 7 billion people on our planet are in grave danger.

Links: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/it/index.php/newsletter/det/ecological_debt_day_2007
http://www.treehugger.com/culture/ecological-debt-day-6-october-2007.html
http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/earth_overshoot_day/

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