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Today is Earth Overshoot Day

by Kirsten Hudson

Tags: Earth Overshoot Day, ecological overshoot, overshoot, climate change,

Today is Earth Overshoot Day—and it is not a day of celebration. This date marks a sad milestone: The day of the year when humans begin living beyond their environmental means.

Increasing global consumption of the earth's resources makes Earth Overshoot Day arrive earlier each year. Photo By megafon/Courtesy Flickr.

Ecological overshoot is when we begin using up the earth’s resources faster than it can regenerate them; for example, cutting down trees faster than they can grow back or catching fish faster than they can repopulate. In 10 months we’ve used up the amount of resources the earth can replenish in a year. We now require 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles.

Overshoot also includes the amount of carbon dioxide we produce versus how much Mother Earth can reabsorb. The cost of our reckless expenditure and over-the-top CO2 production is high—leading to climate change, dwindling forests, loss of species and many more environmental hazards.

Overshoot first happened in 1986. Before that we used resources and produced carbon dioxide at a rate that consisted with what the earth could regenerate and reabsorb.

As human consumption grows, the day of the year when we reach the end of our allotted resources comes earlier. In 2008, Earth Overshoot Day was September 23.

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated using the ratio of global available biocapacity to the global ecological footprint multiplied by 365. In 2009 the ratio shows that in just 267 days—on September 25—we used up the earth’s capacity for the year.

Disturbing isn’t it? Tell me what you think about Earth Overshoot Day in the comments section.