Today is World Overshoot Day, a day that marks the point in each year when we have used more natural resources than the Earth can renew. According to WWF, every single natural resource we use from now on in 2107 will not be sustainable.
Everything we do makes demands on the planet. The alcohol we drink, the tobacco we smoke, the clothes we buy, what we eat, the way we travel and more. When combined with the demands of every other person on Earth – known as humanity's Ecological Footprint – we are far exceeding the planet's capabilities.
Simply put, from this day onwards humans have used up their allowance for water, soil, clean air and other resources on Earth for the whole of the calendar year, so the earlier the date is, the worse off we are as a planet, and this year's date is earlier than it ever has been before. According to campaigners, this new date means that we now need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to withstand our level of consumption.
— WWF_Australia (@WWF_Australia) August 1, 2017
While today might mark the day when the world runs out of resources en masse, different countries use their own natural resources at different rates, with the UK officially used up it's own resources for this year on My 6th.
While many think that transport and the fuel it burns is the main reason for resource consumption, this isn't the truth. The Earth Overshoot Day website currently lists three main culprits that result in our depletion of ecological resources: overfishing, deforestation, and the emission of CO2 into our atmosphere at a rate that forestry cannot replenish.
Deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate. According to the WWF, every year we remove 50,200 square miles of forestry, burning large areas of woodlands in the process, which result in vast amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Although increasing levels of consumption and the damage being done to the planet each year might seem an uncontrollable and almost abstract issue, in reality its one that we can all effect and reverse through a few simple changes.
Through cutting down on meat, producing less food waste and changing the kind of fuels we use for energy wherever possible, we could push this date back in a matter of years. Switching to more plant based protein and cutting down on agricultural animal farms alone could lead to as much as a 16 per cent drop in natural resources. Real changes in culture would bring real changes in consumption.
Change needs to be pushed on a bigger level also. The UK government last week announced that it was to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, the announcement today has proven that we can't afford to wait 23 years before making these changes, they need to start now.
Now is the time to start holding yourself accountable for what you contribute to the our overall footprint. You can use this helpful ecological footprint calculator from WWF to see the ways that your lifestyle is hurting the planet and start making changes today, so this date isn't even earlier by 2018.