Its Only August And We Have Already Used Up All Of Earth’s Resources For The Year

Zarmeen Shahzad

We as humans are supposed to be smart, we are supposed to understand that our actions can have consequences that we can never truly reverse yet we are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again. On Monday, the 8th of August, humans used up all the resources Earth could regenerate in a year. Shocked, right?

Overshoot Day - The historic day when we use up more resources than the Earth can regenerate in a year

This day is referred to as ‘overshoot day’ and this year; this day came 5 days earlier than it did in 2015. So what does this actually mean? Well dear readers, it means that we burnt resources and used them up in less time than before. These resources that are valuable to our very existence and our future generations are being used up faster and faster every day. With time we expect that the human generation will get wiser but statistics certainly don’t seem to be showing that.

Statistics show that if we continue to live the way we do now and keep using resources in the same manner, we would require 1.6 planets to meet our demands in the future. If everybody lived like Americans, 4.8 planets will be needed. This sounds bad right? Well, it gets worse. The way Australians live, 5.4 planets worth of resources would be required each year.

Overshoot day is calculated using UN data by the Global Footprint Network each year. This data contains information of thousands of economic sectors, including fisheries, forestry, transport, and energy production.
So when we talk about wasting resources, what resources are actually being considered? These resources include everything from water, land and food to carbon storages. A press release from the Global Footprint Network explained, "Carbon emissions are the fastest growing contributor to ecological overshoot, with the carbon footprint now making up 60 percent of humanity’s demand on nature".

The network has been calculating overshoot day since the 1960s. It shows that in 1961 we were using 75% of our annual resources. The calculations show that till the 1970 we were using enough resources that could be reproduced in a sustainable manner. In 1970 we burnt our resources on 23 December and every year after that we seem to be burning our resources earlier and earlier.

Is there hope left? Can we still save our future?


The good news is that the advancement of the date is gradually slowing down. On average, since the 1970s, Earth Overshoot Day has moved three days earlier per year, but over the past five years, it's slowed to less than one day a year.

This is definitely depressing. But there still seems to be a little hope left. The advancement of the date seems to be slowing down. Does that mean that we are making progress? May be we are. Since the 1970s, Earth Overshoot day has moved on average 3 days earlier each but since the past 5 years this number has reduced to less than one day. Some of our wiser members of society have realized what’s happening and they seem to have slowed down and cut off use of excessive fossil fuels. Only last year Costa Rica managed to power the country with 100% renewable for 75 consecutive days. Well this is progress right? We can hope that other countries make the same efforts because the world may see its end sooner if this wasting of resources doesn’t stop.

Germany was powered by 95% renewable energy last year and Portugal ran for four straight days without fossil fuels. Many countries are making progress and renewable energy resources are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. This serves as a huge encouraging factor. China has made an aim to reduce meat consumption by approximately 50% by 2030. This reduction is in return expected to reduce the CO2 emissions. Many cities are also trying to reduce use of plastics.

Earth’s population is expected to increase by approximately 11 billion by the end of this century and this adds to complications. How are we supposed to ensure that such a large number of people are provided for if our resources are already limited? This is a question which many researchers, social workers and scientists are working on. Till then, we as members of this society need to realize that maybe science may find a solution but we need to act too. We must find it within ourselves to love this earth and to find ways of protecting its resources for our future.


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