By Larraine Roulston:
Ecological Debt Day, later to become Earth Overshoot Day, was established to monitor the rate at which humans are consuming the earth’s natural resources. It was originally developed by Andrew Simms of the UK think tank New Economics Foundation. Results posted annually show that, globally, humans are demanding more ecological resources and services than the earth has capacity to regenerate. Studies reveal that we are overfishing, over-harvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than trees can absorb.
The first research that noted an “ecological debt” occurred in 1970, when we used up our year’s quota of resources on December 24th. Since then, data has revealed that we have been reaching our “ecological debt” earlier each year. In 2016, with four and a half months to go until the end of December, August 8th was pegged as the date our demand of renewable resources exceeded what our earth could replenish within the year. The Global Footprint Network (GFN) and the World Wide Fund for Nature partnered to produce the results as an indication that we are living on resources borrowed from future generations.
It has “come around five days earlier than last year; a sign that humanity’s consumption of renewable natural resources continues to rise,” stated GFN spokesman Sebastian Winkler. According to the GFN, “If this trend continues, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we have only one. Globally, the longer we go on pretending that natural resources are unlimited, the faster we are jeopardizing the very capacity of our planet to provide us with the renewable resources that we need to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves.”
When U.S. President John F. Kennedy wanted to commit to placing a man on the moon, millions of dollars were spent in order to convince Americans to get on board. Where is the investment today to keep citizens informed about climate change as well as to encourage the mainstream population to change their modern lifestyle habits?
Despite the fact that financial incentive from government and corporations won’t be evident anytime in the foreseeable future, each of us has a great opportunity not only to lessen our own Global Footprint , but also to promote, through discussion and social media, a sustainable future by encouraging others to do the following:
- Eat more vegetarian and vegan meals
- Lower household energy & water consumption
- Use public transportation or cycle to work
- Choose to fly less often
- Buy used rather than new items whenever possible
- Plant a tree — the lungs of the earth
True, our population has increased, but so has our awareness since the first Earth Day was celebrated in1971. Our future depends on whether or not we will see it boast an improvement — perhaps into September — rather than have the 2017 “ecological debt” indicate another, earlier date. Thinking slower instead of faster, smaller instead of bigger, less instead of more will all help because . . . That’s Progress!
Larraine authors children’s books on composting. Visit www.castlecompost.com.