Less than eight months into 2015, humans have already consumed a year’s worth of the Earth’s resources.
Ecological Debt Day, or Earth Overshoot Day, falls on Thursday and marks the point in the year when “humanity’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide — fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption — exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year,” the international think tank Global Footprint Network explains in the video above.
This means that for the rest of 2015, we will be “living on resources borrowed from future generations,” the World Wildlife Fund said. It’s like overdrawing a bank account.
The earth is going into ecological debt earlier each year, The Guardian notes. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day is six days ahead of last year’s, and months earlier than in 2000, when it arrived in October.
“In 1961, humans used only around three-quarters of the capacity Earth has for generating food, timber, fish and absorbing greenhouse gases, with most countries having more resources than they consumed,” The Guardian reports. “But now 86% of the world’s population lives in countries where the demands made on nature – the nation’s “ecological footprint” – outstrip what that country’s resources can cope with.”
Global Footprint Network and other experts say addressing the growing problem of overpopulation is a cornerstone of reducing ecological debt. John R. Wilmoth, director of the United Nations Population Division, announced Monday that the world population of 7.3 billion people is predicted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and up to 13.3 billion by 2100. He said there’s only a 23 percent chance that the world’s population will stop growing before the end of the century.
The U.S. is the world’s ninth-biggest resource hog, using 310 percent of its capacity for resources, according to data from Global Footprint Network. Top offenders are the United Arab Emirates (750 percent), Singapore (590 percent) and Belgium (460 percent.)
This is just the latest in a string of dire warnings about the unsustainability of our current path. In January, an international team of 18 scientists warned that humans are “eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years, damaging the environment so gravely that the Earth will cease to be a “safe operating space” for our species. And according to a report released in June, biodiversity loss is occurring at a rate 114 times faster than normal, which has pushed the Earth into its sixth mass extinction event.