The Global Population Has Already Fully Consumed Earth’s Natural Resources for 2018

The Global Population Has Already Fully Consumed Earth's Natural Resources for 2018

The global population is consuming far more than the finite natural resources produced by the planet every year. Earth Overshoot Day, the day that marks the complete consumption of the natural resources produced by the planet in a given year, has come earlier than ever before in 2018, on August 1.

“Earth’s ecosystem is remarkable. If managed properly, it could sustain human civilization indefinitely,” writes the Weather Network. “Unfortunately, we are not managing Earth’s ecosystem properly. Instead, due to overpopulation, land-use, over-fishing, deforestation, pollution and climate change due to fossil fuel burning, and a host of other practices, we are in a pattern of ‘ecological overspending’.”

Humans have been consuming surplus resources for nearly five decades. In 1971, Earth Overshoot Day, formerly known as Ecological Debt Day, fell on December 21. While twenty years ago, Earth Overshoot Day fell at the beginning of October, for the past eight years, it has consistently been in early August.

According to Global Footprint Network, the human demand for natural resources will exceed what the planet is able to regenerate by 75 percent by 2020 and by 100 percent by 2030.

“We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt,” Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of the Global Footprint Network, said in a United Nations Climate Change press release on Tuesday.

The Global Footprint Network estimates that 86 percent of countries are currently living beyond their ecological means, with some of the worst offenders living in North America. If everyone around the world consumed natural resources like Canadians, Earth Overshoot Day 2018 would have fallen on March 18; if instead United States consumption were the norm, Earth Overshoot Day would have fallen on March 15.

Only five countries in the world put more pressure on the planet’s natural resources than the United States, including the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, and Qatar.

The Global Footprint Network notes that by making changes including choosing plant-based foods and shifting to renewable energy, Earth Overshoot Day can be pushed back. Gaining five additional days annually would get the Earth out of overshoot entirely by 2050, according to the group.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco