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    Planet in Debt: 1.6 Earths Needed to Cover Human Demands

    © AFP 2019 / LUNAE PARRACHO
    Environment
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    The world has run out of its biological resources for 2015 and will have to borrow against future resources until the end of the year – the annual Earth Overshoot Day has arrived one week earlier this year.

    Earth Overshoot Day, which is August, 13 this year, marks the date when human consumption exceeds its annual biocapacity – its ability to cover the global population's demand with ecological resources. The date, measured by Global Footprint Network (GFN), a thinktank, moves each year to an earlier date, meaning that humanity consumes more from year to year, ecologists claim.

    The measurements are based on open data sources from all over the globe, such as various UN statistics, which reveal the scale of fishing, timber stockpiling, arable land usage and grazing. The negative factors being calculated are firstly carbon emissions, then soil erosion, deforestation, the deficiency of water resources and greenhouse gases. The core of the method lies in comparing the volume of resources consumed to Earth's biocapability, or ability to regenerate.

    Oil refinery in Austria
    © Flickr / Miroslav Petrasko
    Oil refinery in Austria

    The current numbers presented at the Earth Overshoot Day website provide evidence that our planet consumes the resources of 1.6 Earths.

    Now, the USA alone requires twice as many resources annually as it is able to regenerate, while Europe's most powerful economy, Germany, needs 2.1 Germanys to cover its population’s demands. By 2030 the global figure is expected to reach 3 planets if carbon emissions are not reigned in, GFN calculations suggest.

    Dock worker Rick Libero, of Gloucester, Mass., processes herring at the Jodrey State Fish Pier in Gloucester
    © AP Photo / Lisa Poole
    Dock worker Rick Libero, of Gloucester, Mass., processes herring at the Jodrey State Fish Pier in Gloucester

    “Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet’s biocapacity,” said GFN’s President Mathis Wackernagel.

    A man wearing a mask amid heavy smog on the Bund in Shanghai as local meteorological department issued a yellow alert for smog
    © AFP 2019 / STR
    A man wearing a mask amid heavy smog on the Bund in Shanghai as local meteorological department issued a yellow alert for smog

    According to an earlier World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and GFN report, populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish on our planet have declined by 52 percent for the same period.

    Indian scavengers look for coins and other valuable items from among the offerings of devotees in the Ganges at Varanasi
    © AFP 2019 / Prakash SINGH
    Indian scavengers look for coins and other valuable items from among the offerings of devotees in the Ganges at Varanasi

    Russia is the only economy among the world’s largest where renewable natural resource reserves are growing, however the country must assure the clever management of its ecological capital to maintain its favorable position, another GFN and WWF Russia report published last year revealed.

    Dawn over Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia.
    © Sputnik / Igor Podgornyi
    Dawn over Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia.

    “This way, [Russia] is one of the few countries that can assure stable biocapacity reserves for years ahead if natural resources are used wisely. If Russia wants to remain one of the world’s economic leaders and consolidate its citizens' welfare, then it should take steps to conserve its resources, mineral and biological, and also invest in science, education, culture, and technological development it order to create a knowledge economy and reduce the pressure on ecosystems,” the report read.

    The marking of the annual turn to an “ecological deficit”, according to GFN, is aimed at raising awareness of a need to combat ecological changes on the planet and to take a responsible approach to the use of resources. This year, the day is specifically bound to a UN-hosted December conference on global warming.

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    Tags:
    deforestation, carbon emissions, natural resources, resources, ecology, Earth Overshoot Day, World
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