Humanity has used up its natural resource budget for the year and we are now going into overdraft.
This week marks the annual point at which our use of resources has started to exceed the Earth’s ability to regenerate.
Exhaustion of the ecological ‘budget’ has been creeping up on us earlier each year, and this time we have exceeded the budget limit with still a quarter of a year left to go, the international sustainability think tank Global Footprint Network (GFN) has revealed.
In 2000, Earth Overshoot Day was calculated for early October - nearly two months later than this year, highlighting our increased churning through of resources.
Ecological overshooting became a problem in the 1970s, when we started to liquidate resource stocks, according to the think tank.
Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network says that while the global overshoot is an overarching challenge for the entire world, it’s the low-income countries that are threatened most by resource constraints.
“Each individual country’s availability of and dependence on natural capital will affect its economy and define how it can weather this global storm,” Wackernagel said.
But the impact of an ecological overdraft, such as water shortages, soil erosion, overgrazing and increased carbon concentration in the atmosphere is also a challenge for high-income countries.
“Even countries that have had the financial advantage to shield themselves from the most direct impacts of resource dependence need to realize that a long-term solution requires addressing such dependencies before they turn into a significant economic stress.” Wackernagel added.
Australia counts towards those countries with more biocapacity than footprint, but the GFN says its challenge is to nurture its natural assets over the long term.