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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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.