Humanity Set to Bust Our Yearly Ecological Budget on Aug. 1
Earth Overshoot Day—a marker of when the world's 7.6 billion people will "use more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year"—will fall on Aug. 1, the earliest date yet since we first went into ecological debt in the 1970s.
The international research organization uses Ecological Footprint accounting to calculate the date each year. Last year's Earth Overshoot Day fell a day later on Aug. 2.
Global Footprint Network
"As we mark Earth Overshoot Day, today may seem no different from yesterday—you still have the same food in your refrigerator," Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel said in the press release. "But fires are raging in the Western United States and in Cape Town, South Africa, residents have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet."
So what will happen after Aug. 1? In the remaining five months of 2018, human beings will draw on Earth's precious and limited reserves of fresh water, land, fisheries and forests, making it harder for these ecosystems to regenerate their resources.
"Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet. We are using the Earth's future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt," Wackernagel said.
Compared to the 1960s, humankind only spent three-quarters of Earth's annual resource allotment. However, by the 1970s, economic and population growth has driven Earth into this annual downward trend.
Global Footprint Network
Carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels has become the fastest-growing part of the Ecological Footprint, the Global Footprint Network warned. CO2 is also being released at a rate much faster than it can be absorbed.
"It's time to leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction," Wackernagel said.
The Global Footprint Network has listed the four following solution areas to address ecological overshoot:
- Cities: If we reduce driving by 50 percent around the world and replace one-third of car miles with public transportation and the rest by walking and biking, we can #MoveTheDate of Overshoot Day back 12 days.
- Energy: Reducing the carbon component of humanity's Ecological Footprint by 50 percent would #MoveTheDate 93 days.
- Food: If everyone in the world cut food waste in half, reduced the Footprint intensity of their diets, and consumed world-average calories, we would #MoveTheDate 38 days.
- Population: If every other family in the world had one less child, we would move Overshoot Day 30 days by 2050.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle
With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.
But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.