It’s the first of October today. Three more months to go until the new year. But not for the planet. September 27th was this year’s ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, calculated by the Global Footprint Network. ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is the date where we humans start entering ‘ecological debt’. It’s the date when we have used up all of the natural resources the planet has to offer if we were to consume at a sustainable rate. So, although we may have three more months to go until the new year, where the planet is concerned, we’re living on borrowed time.
These calculations from Global Footprint Network show that we are currently using natural resources at a sustainable rate for 1.3 − 1.5 planets, not the one planet we have to inhabit. And their predictions go so far as to say that we are on track to demand the resources of two planets ‘way before mid century’. These figures might not sound so shocking if you think of the times you have heard statements like ‘the average American needs five planets to sustain them’, but this is a global calculation, so although the Americans may still need 5 planets, there are also nations currently using less than 1 planet worth of resources. Last year, a helpful table published on TreeHugger.com showed that the resource demands of India still only required .5 of an Earth. Here in the UK we exceeded sustainability – requiring 3.4 Earths. What better evidence is needed to show that we must get our own house in order?
There are plenty of carbon calculators out there. Why not try one and see how much you consume? One I’ve used recently is on the Guardian website, which shows you how you compare against average citizens of the UK, USA, China and Bangladesh – and against our future targets.