Yesterday, the planet slipped into its environmental overdraft, as mankind’s demands for resources have exceeded the amount that the planet can renew in one year.
According to think-tank Global Footprint Network, which dubbed the day ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, humanity is now using up ecological resources and services at a rapid speed.
‘Earth Overshoot Day’
In order to keep up with human demand over the next 12 months, one-and-a-half planets would be needed to renew resources at the current rate of exploitation. This figure could rise to two earths before the year 2050.
Global consumption rates vary widely and if the whole of the world was to consume at the speed of the residents of the USA, four planets would be needed to renew resources. If everyone consumed like the average Qatar resident, a startling six-and-a-half earths would be required.
80% of countries in ecological overdraft
The think tank also found that more than 80% of the world’s population lives in countries that use more than their own ecosystems are able to renew. For example, people in Switzerland consume the ecological resources of four times their country.
According to Global Footprint Network, economies need to think more about how much wealth is generated by ecosystem services such as water purification, soils and pollinating insects. Only then can this worrying trend be reversed.
The organisation commented: “As our level of consumption, or ‘spending’, grows, the interest we are paying on this mounting ecological debt – shrinking forests, biodiversity loss, fisheries collapse, food shortages, degraded land productivity and the build-up of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and oceans – not only burdens the environment but also undermines our economies.”
It added that climate change represents the “most widespread impact” of ecological overspending, as this is caused by greenhouse gases being emitted faster than they can be taken in by forests and oceans.
Humans 95% to blame for climate change
This comes after the release of a climate change report from the UN, which found that humans are 95% to blame for climate change. The biggest reason for this is the burning of fossil fuels, which the report claims has caused global temperatures to spike significantly since 1950.
The report also found that sea levels could rise by three feet by 2100, with soaring temperatures having already altered climate extremes and melted much snow and ice. The problem of rising sea levels is much worse than was previously thought, according to the report, with research six years ago indicating that they would increase by less than two feet.
However, it does appear that temperature increases have slowed down since 1998. Temperatures are undoubtedly still climbing, but they are doing so at a slower pace than in the past.