On July 29, humanity will have used nature’s resource budget for the entire year, according to Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability organization that has pioneered the Ecological Footprint. It is Earth Overshoot Day. Its date has moved up two months over the past 20 years to the 29th of July this year, the earliest date ever.
The Ecological Footprint is the most comprehensive biological resource accounting metric available. It adds up all of people’s competing demands for biologically productive areas – food, timber, fibers, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel make up 60 percent of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.
Earth Overshoot Day falling on July 29th means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.75 Earths. Overshoot is possible because we are depleting our natural capital – which compromises humanity’s future resource security.
The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.
“We have only got one Earth – this is the ultimately defining context for human existence. We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences,” said Mathis Wackernagel, co-inventor of Ecological Footprint accounting and founder of Global Footprint Network.
Accelerate solutions to #MoveTheDate
Moving the date of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days each year would allow humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. Solutions that #MoveTheDate are available and financially advantageous. Significant opportunities are to be found in five key areas: cities, energy, food, population, and planet. For instance, cutting CO2emissions from fossil fuel burning by 50% would #MoveTheDate by 93 days.
Just days ahead of Earth Overshoot Day, Global Footprint Network launched the beta version of the #MoveTheDate Solutions Map where people are invited to champion existing solutions. Users can also connect with each other on the basis of geography and focus of interest, accelerating the implementation of new projects in the real world. Developed with startup Mapotic, the social platform also features solutions identified by partners, starting with Buckminster Fuller Institute award laureates.