Humanity’s ‘resource debt’ escalates

Humanity went into 'resource debt' on Monday, having used up more wood, oil, food and water than the earth is capable of replenishing this year, scientists have said.

Environmentalists have observed “Overshoot Day” every year since the world first overspent on its annual resources in 1987 to highlight the way humanity is depleting the natural supplies it is living off.

According to this year’s calculations, released by UK think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) together with the US-based Global Footprint Network, Overshoot Day day falls on 9 October – two months earlier in the year than when the day was first marked on 19 December 1987.

The way that overshoot day is creeping forward reflects the accelerating rate at which we are over-consuming our resources, the NEF said.

Andrew Simms, NEF’s policy director said: “By living so far beyond our environmental means, and running up ecological debts we make two mistakes.

“First, we deny millions globally who already lack access to sufficient land, food and clean water the chance to meet their needs. Secondly, we put the planet’s life support mechanisms in peril.”

Mathis Wackernagel, executive director of the Global Footprint Network said: “Humanity is living off its ecological credit card and can only do this by liquidating the planet’s natural resources.

“While this can be done for a short while, overshoot ultimately leads to the depletion of resources, such as the forests, oceans and agricultural land upon which our economy depends.”

“The science of resource depletion is unequivocal. To deliver a sustainable future it is necessary to reduce demand, improve efficiency and switch to renewables.”

Calculating our global and personal resource depletion day is a resonant way of making planetary limits more transparent,” Craig Simmons, co-founder and director of Best Foot Forward – another UK-based NGO involved in publicising Overshoot Day.

Goska Romanowicz

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