The Earth Overshoot Day – also known as Ecological Debt Day – marks the day of a particular year on which the world's population lives ecologically beyond its means in terms of its consumption of nature. Since 1971, the annual consumption has exceeded global resources. The day on which this point is reached occurs earlier every year since then – this year on 1 August 2018, one day earlier than last year. "Germany even needs more than two earths for its energy and resource consumption," says Prof. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute. This year's German Earth Overshoot Day fell to 2 May 2018.
Global CO2 emissions are far greater than the absorption capacity of forests and oceans. More fish are caught and trees are cleared in the oceans and forests than a natural recovery or regrowth would be able to absorb. Through such patterns of consumption and behaviour, people are currently consuming natural resources faster than they can be regenerated by the earth and its ecosystems.
The international research institute Global Footprint Network calculates this day annually based on its resource accounting, the so-called ecological footprint. This development could be reversed if earth’s population were able to postpone Earth Overshoot Day by 4.5 days a year. As a result, in 2050 mankind would live again in the ecological capacities of the earth.
"We would like to thank our cooperation partner Dr. Mathis Wackernagel and the Global Footprint Network for raising awareness of the issue with the Earth Overshoot Day," adds Uwe Schneidewind.
Besides large-scale, systemic solutions, the Global Footprint Network also wants to show how people can make a contribution to the solution. For this purpose, the Global Footprint Network is launching a German version of its "Ecological Footprint Calculator" on this year's Earth Overshoot Day. With this tool all interested people can calculate their personal Earth Overshoot Day.
But positive examples illustrate that the current trend is not irreversible. For example, the decline of the ecological footprint per captia in the USA, the planned development of an ecological civilisation in China or countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua which are turning their backs on fossil fuels.
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