Every year, humans consume more natural resources than the planet can replenish.
This year, however, the date at which we go overdrawn on our biological bank account has been pushed back.
It’s the first time it’s happened since the 1970s and, unsurprisingly, it’s because of the coronavirus pandemic that the so-called Earth Overshoot Day occurs later.
Last year, we reached the date on July 29, but in 2020 it’s scheduled for tomorrow – August 22.
Because of the worldwide effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, our global ecological footprint (when it comes to things like carbon emissions and deforestation) was down 9.3% compared to last year, according to the Global Footprint Network.
Researchers at the Global Footprint Network group calculate the date of Earth Overshoot Day by analysing ‘all the human demands’ for food, energy, space for houses and roads and what would be needed to absorb global C02 emissions.
And while pushing that date back may seem like a chink of brightness in an otherwise dark year, the researchers say it’s not something to celebrate.
‘It’s not done by design, it’s done by disaster,’ said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network, in an online presentation yesterday.
He went on to explain that humankind is using 60% more resources than can realistically be renewed by the planet.
Or, to put it another way, we’re consuming the natural resources of 1.6 planets every year.
‘It’s like with money. We can spend more than what we earned, but not forever,’ said Wackernagel.
A report put out by the group breaks down how the date is calculated and how much Covid-19 has impacted emissions and wood harvesting. Unfortunately, while the pandemic dented our over-consumption, it seems unlikely to alter it long-term.
‘Humanity has been united by the common experience of the pandemic and shown how intertwined our lives are,’ said Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom.
‘At the same time, we cannot ignore the deep unevenness of our experiences nor the social, economic, and political tensions which have been exacerbated by this global disaster.
‘Making regeneration central to our rebuilding and recovery efforts has the potential to address the imbalances both in human society and in our relationship with the Earth.’
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