By Tomorrow, We Will Have Consumed More Resources So Far This Year Than the Planet Is Capable of Regenerating
By John R. Platt
That wasn't a problem until a few decades ago. Back in 1987 the "overshoot" date for Earth's resources was December 19, less than two weeks before the end of the year. That's not too bad, right?
Thirty years later, however, that date has moved up—and up—and up. Last year what has now been dubbed Earth Overshoot Day had moved all the way up to August 8.
This year it's even earlier.
That means that by the end of 2017 we will have used the equivalent of about 1.7 Earths' worth of resources.
"It's surprising that we haven't been able to turn around the trend much," said Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network, which runs the Earth Overshoot Day campaign each year. "The increase seems to be slowing down, but not very rapidly yet."
Despite the six-day leap forward this year, Wackernagel actually encourages people to take Earth Overshoot Day as a positive moment and an opportunity for change. "Since the very beginning we have pledged to be optimistic, positive and just describe what the situation is."
Being positive helps, but it isn't necessarily enough, so this year Earth Overshoot Day has introduced a new level of interactivity. "We added a new twist called Move the Date," Wackernagel said, "to say what would it actually take to move the date four and a half days per year?" The Move the Date webpage contains six pledges people can take to make an individual or societal difference. They include something as simple as trying a new vegetarian recipe to pledging to reach out to your city leadership for broader change.
"It's a way to translate something that feels insurmountable into kind of bite-sized opportunities," Wackernagel said.
Wackernagel admitted that moving the date back 4.5 days is a relatively small goal. "To my taste that wouldn't be enough, but at least it would be much, much better than what we do now," he said. And, he added, if we accomplished that 4.5-day shift every year, we'd be back to using the resources of a single planet by the year 2050.
Another new component this year is a web tool to "calculate your own Overshoot Day." Visitors can use the site's footprint calculator—which looks like a 3D video game—to figure out how much they use and how it compares to others. "It lets people see what Earth Overshoot Day would be like if everybody acted like you," Wackernagel said.
The site also contains resources for students and teachers, as well as a list of additional solutions from Project Drawdown, which earlier this year calculated the 80 most effective ways to reverse global warming.
Wackernagel acknowledges that some simple things such as eating a single vegetarian meal won't move the global needle very far, but adds that everyone can make a difference. "We want to get away from people's strong perception that sustainability is about a voluntary lifestyle choice for a select few. If you've selected to have a different lifestyle," he said, "that's sustainability."
The Revelator is published by the Center for Biological Diversity, one of Global Footprint Network's partners in Earth Overshoot Day. Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
'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.