Saturday, 16 July 2011

"The day humanity starts eating the planet" - Friday, 03 October 2008

(another from a few years back...)
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I read about this sometime last week, and just found this article on the nef (new economics foundation) website. Scarifying.

"Tuesday 23 September: The day humanity starts eating the planet

On September 23, humanity will have used up all the resources nature will provide this year, according to the latest data from Global Footprint Network and its member organisation
nef (the new economics foundation) who devised the concept of Ecological Debt Day.

Just like any company, nature has a budget - it can only produce so many resources and absorb so much waste each year. The problem is, our demand on nature's services is exceeding what it can provide.

Since the 1980s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot, using resources faster than they can be regenerated and putting carbon into the air faster than it can be reabsorbed. Globally, we now demand the biological capacity of 1.4 planets. But of course, we only have one. The result is that our supply of natural resources - like trees and fish - continues to shrink, while our waste - primarily carbon dioxide - accumulates.

"It took governments in the UK and US just a week to drop decades of hardened economic practice to save the financial system from meltdown, why should it take any longer to act to save the planet?" says Andrew Simms,
nef policy director,
"They say that big financial institutions are too big to fail, but there is something larger and much more important that is being allowed to collapse - a climate system conducive to human civilisation. There could be less than one hundred months to prevent catastrophic, runaway global warming. We need a programme from government now, that is at least as bold as action to save reckless financiers."

Each year, the Global Footprint Network calculates humanity's Ecological Footprint (its demand on cropland, pasture, forests and fisheries and space for infrastructure), and compares this with global biocapacity-the ability of these ecosystems to generate resources and absorb waste. Ecological Footprint accounting can be used to determine the exact date we, as a global community, begin living beyond the means of what the planet produces every year.

From now until the end of the year, we're dipping into our ecological reserves, borrowing from the future, said Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of Global Footprint Network. This can go on for a short time, but ultimately it leads to a build up of waste and the depletion of the very resources on which the human economy depends.
Ecological overshoot is at the root of many of the most pressing environmental problems we face today: climate change, declining biodiversity, shrinking forests, fisheries collapse, and many of the factors contributing to the current global food crisis.
    Ecological Debt Day is creeping ever earlier as human consumption grows. Humanity's first Ecological Debt Day was December 31, 1986.
    Ten years later, humanity was using 15 percent more resources in a year than the planet could supply, with the Day falling in November.
This year, more than two decades since we first went into Ecological Debt Day has moved up to September 23, and our rate of overshoot stands at 40 percent more than the planet can renewably supply. nef, the Global Footprint Network and its international partner network are focused on solving the problem of overshoot, working with businesses and government leaders bring ecological limits to the forefront of decision-making everywhere. 
People can determine their own Ecological Footprint and learn how to reduce it at They can have an even greater impact by encouraging government and business leaders to build communities that help to end overshoot with smart infrastructure planning and best-practice green technology.
People wishing to take positive, regular monthly actions on climate change can also sign-up at - which includes a countdown clock for to avoiding dangerous global warming."

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