As of Aug. 13, our planet has already consumed its yearly allowance of renewable resources. Think tank Global Footprint Network (GFN), which tracks the impact of mankind on our planet, has revealed.
Thursday marks this year's Earth Overshoot Day, or the day when the total consumption of all man-made activities on Earth exceeds the planet's ability to generate these resources for the year.
GFN president Mathis Wackernagel explained that the Earth Overshoot Day can be considered as the day when a person spends more than the salary he earns for the whole year, except that the salary is actually the biocapacity of the Earth.
"We spend 1.62 times what Earth can renew," Wackernagel said. "Like with money, you can dip into your inheritance or your savings for a time, but only a certain amount of time."
Wackernagel said that they were able to come up with the estimate by looking at the resource demands of mankind that compete for space such as timber, fiber and food and by comparing this to how much area is required to provide these and the extent of productive surface available.
The Overshoot Day should ideally come after the last day of the year. In 1970, when humans started to consume more of what the Earth could resupply, Overshoort Day occurred on Dec. 23 but the day moves up earlier and earlier each year. In 2000, the day fell in October and this year is so far the earliest being four days earlier than the record last year.
"Humanity's carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet's biocapacity," Wackernagel said adding that a global agreement that aims to phase out fossil fuels could have a significant impact in helping curb the consistent growth and even shrink Ecological Footprint, humanity's demand on planet Earth.
The GFN sees the upcoming U.N.'s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Paris, where the United Nations aims for a global agreement that could reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, as a second chance.
If global emission of carbon drops by at least 30 percent below the current level, in keeping with the suggested scenario of the IPCC, Earth Overshoot Day could be moved back to September 16 by 2030.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr