If Everyone Lived Like Europeans, We'd Be Out of Earth's Resources Today
Today is the day on which we would have exhausted Earth's resources for the year if everyone lived like residents of the European Union (EU), according to a new report from WWF and the Global Footprint Network. The report, the first to focus on the EU specifically, calculated that if everyone consumed as much fuel, food, fiber, land and timber as Europeans, it would take 2.8 planet earths to sustain us all, The Guardian reported.
"EU Overshoot Day is a stark reminder that EU consumption is contributing to the Earth's looming ecological and climate collapse. This is not only irresponsible, it is outright dangerous. Urgent action is needed, and EU leaders must summon the political will to treat this situation as an emergency and set us on a path towards a sustainable future for Europe," WWF European Policy Office Director Ester Asin said, according to The Guardian.
If everybody lived as Europeans, we would need 2.8 planets 🌍🌍🌍. This year’s EU Overshoot Day happens on 10 May.… https://t.co/MPZnqiHTLE— WWF EU (@WWF EU)1557386233.0
The WWF calculates Earth Overshoot Day every year. That is the day at which the entire Earth exhausts its budget of natural resources, and it gets earlier every year. Last year, it was August 1. But it would be more than two months ahead of that if everyone lived like Europeans. The EU currently uses twice as many resources as its own ecosystems can sustain, the report found, according to BBC News. It makes up just seven percent of the earth's population, but uses one fifth of its "biocapacity."
"We are running a pyramid scheme," Global Footprint Network Founder and President Mathis Wackernagel said, according to The Guardian. "Taking resources from the future to run today's economy. It needs no reminder that this is risky for Europe's prosperity. Choosing to deplete our future does not serve us."
The EU's resource overuse comes mostly through the burning of greenhouse gasses, but also from the import of products like palm oil, soy, cocoa and rubber that are made possible by deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
If the EU as a whole were a country, it would have the third largest ecological footprint in the world, behind only the U.S. and China. But the report also broke down the consumption of individual countries. Luxembourg, which relies heavily on coal, had an overshoot day 46 days into 2016. Romania's was July 12. The overshoot day for the UK was May 17, a week after the average.
Our latest report with @EndOvershoot shows the EU’s ecological footprint is too large and not a single EU country i… https://t.co/MeZaHboDdn— WWF EU (@WWF EU)1557406087.0
A UK government spokesperson told BBC News that the country was committed to using resources in a more sustainable way.
"We want to leave our environment in a better state than we found it," they said. "Our 25-year Environment Plan outlines steps to achieve this ambition and the forthcoming Environment Bill will put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. We share the Global Footprint Network's ambition to push back Overshoot Day."
The report comes two weeks before the European Parliament elections and, in the report, WWF urged EU leaders and political representatives to take the following actions to reduce Europe's footprint:
1. Shift to sustainable consumption and food systems
2. Make Europe climate-neutral by 2040
3. Restore our nature
4. Protect the Ocean
5. Invest in a sustainable future
It also called on the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council.to endorse a European Sustainability Pact following the elections, with goals like fighting climate change and investing in sustainable sectors.
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
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