The Earth has a limited supply of natural resources—and at one point, these resources will run out.
Alarmingly, the Global Footprint Network discovered that humans haven’t been living within the Earth’s means since the early 1970s. And since that day the Overshoot Day of each year has been recorded.
The think tank calculates the Earth Overshoot Day based on the amount of resources that humans consume versus the amount that the Earth can replenish within a year. This year it landed on July 28.
The biggest reason for the Overshoot Day being so early is the amount of resources humans use. Maryville University reports that humans currently use 1.56 times more than the Earth’s biocapacity. This means that it already takes the Earth about a year and a half to restore what people have used in a year.
The Dangers Of Going Over The Earth’s Biocapacity
The Global Footprint Network’s report on the Earth Overshoot Day is an important reminder that the overconsumption of humans can lead to dire consequences. A global population model made by an expert from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute highlights how the Earth’s declining biocapacity is already affecting the replenishment of natural resources.
Limited resources like fossil fuels and fresh water reservoirs are declining, leading to famine in Yemen in 2015, drought in the Sahel region of Africa, and rising oil prices all over the world.
Other countries are also in danger of experiencing the same issues. An article on Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future found that the Earth is already on the path to a sixth major extinction, and is at a risk of losing about 20% of all species in the next few decades.
Over 70% of people also live in a country with a biocapacity deficit, which increases their chances of experiencing food insecurity, fossil fuel deficit, and climate change within their lifetime. If we continue to go beyond the planet’s biocapacity, researchers estimate that humans will compromise their health and even their lives.
The Urgent Need to Sustain Our Natural Resources
We have been consuming more than the planet can replenish for about five decades now. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the Earth’s biocapacity can sustain this trend for five more decades.
Before everything runs out, people and businesses need to embrace zero-waste practices to prevent the overuse of natural resources. Zero-waste practices can eliminate our ecological deficit with the planet because the practice preserves limited natural resources and allows materials to be reused in new products.
This philosophy starts with simple methods, such as refusing single-use plastics and reducing unnecessary purchases. Businesses and people can go further by repurposing waste into new materials and composting items that cannot be reused.
On top of that, people can also set back the Earth Overshoot Day by increasing the planet’s biocapacity. This can be achieved by the government and by businesses through strict land use policies, ecological restoration and nature conservation efforts, and the optimization of land use.
You can also do your own part by creating a garden to grow your own food. Our article on the 8 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Right Now explains that having a smart garden for your food can lower the carbon footprint produced by food transportation.
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Your smart garden can also help you control your consumption of produce and limit your carbon footprint via food waste. These little efforts go a long way in increasing the Earth’s biocapacity for our consumption.
We need to take care of Mother Earth, so that she can take care of us in return. By being mindful of your own consumption, you can do your part in extending the Earth's biocapacity for life.
Written by Aniqa Henrik