Photo: Johannes Eisele Agence France-Presse
The index takes into account the carbon footprint, the resources consumed in the fisheries, livestock, crops, construction and use of water.
Starting August 1st, humanity will have consumed all of the resources that the planet was able to produce for the year 2018, warns the organization Global Footprint Network, which calculates each year the ” day of the overflow.” And if all humans consumed as much as Canadians, the situation would be even worse, because all available resources have been exhausted as soon as march 18.
Concretely, at the current rate of consumption of planetary resources, it would be necessary today to 1.7 Earth to meet the annual demand. This means that by the end of 2018, i.e. for a period of five months, humanity will live ” on credit “, in mortgaging even more of the planet’s capacity to renew resources and absorb our waste, especially our carbon emissions.
What’s more, this day of the “overflow” occurs earlier and earlier each year. If one goes back to the early 1970s, for example, the date on which the planet had only 3.7 billion people (compared to $ 7.6 billion today), we begin to live on credit, only on 21 December.
Symbol of the unsustainable nature of our global consumption, the index takes into account the carbon footprint, the resources consumed in the fisheries, livestock, crops, construction and use of water. Global Footprint Network uses thousands of data from the united nations, in particular those of the united Nations Organization for food and agriculture, the international energy Agency and the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC).
Overall, the calculation is based on the biocapacity of the planet, or its ability to renew resources and absorb wastes, but also on the ecological footprint. This concept developed in the early 1990s by two researchers from the University of Vancouver, William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, is the amount of material consumed by humanity (food, building land, wood, sea products, etc) that will be converted into the form of a surface land or marine necessary for their production, or their absorption for emissions of CO₂.
To be clear, the biocapacity can be seen as the offering of nature, while the ecological footprint is the human demand. However, the demand exceeds more than ever the offer, according to what emerges from the data in the world. “It puts pressure on the planet’s capacity to regenerate “, drawing for example in the fish stock, argued on Monday Valérie Gramond of the world wide Fund for nature, a partner of the Global Footprint Network. And this movement ” is accelerated because of over-consumption and waste “.
In fact, Canada is a good example of this phenomenon. If humanity consumed at the same rate as Canadians, we would have started mortgaging the planetary resources as early as the 18th of march. It should, therefore, more than 4.7 planets Earth to meet the resource demand, but also absorb all of our emissions of greenhouse gases.
Canada is barely better than the United States, where Global Footprint Network sets the date to march 15, 2018. It is, however, less good than Germany (may 2), France (5 may), or China (15 June). The worst case is that of Qatar (February 9), so that the country best placed is Vietnam (December 21).
In an attempt to reverse the trend, the organization that establishes the date of “the overflow” stressed that there should be focus on the carbon footprint of humanity, which represents more than 60 % of the overall environmental footprint. If humanity managed to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 %, it would be possible to roll back the exceeding 93 days, or the equivalent of three months.
Global Footprint Network also insists on the need to reduce the demand for food production by reducing the consumption of meat, but also reducing waste, which account for 9 % of the ecological footprint in the world. For example, 40 % of the food produced to feed Americans is wasted, which is equivalent to the environmental footprint combined of Peru and Belgium.
Finally, it is argued, the importance of reducing the growth of the world population, expected to reach more than 9 billion people in 2050, if the current trend continues.
Jane Virgil has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Koz Week, Jane Virgil worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella.