Every year, the Global Footprint Network assesses how many of Earth’s resources are used by humans and on what day the amount of resources used surpasses how much Earth can regenerate. The date on which that happens is referred to as World Overshoot Day.
Since 1970, humans have overshot the nature’s annual budget and each year, the day it’s hit creeps further and further away from the end of the year. This year, it occurred on August 1. The day is calculated by dividing the ecological resources that are generated each year by the amount of those resources used by humans. 15,000 data points, collected by the United Nations, are used in determining the date. The data can be broken down into four broad categories: how much is consumed, how efficiently things are made, the Earth’s population, and the productivity of nature.
By 2030, the equivalent of two Earths will be needed to keep up with the demand of humans need for natural resources. For 2018 the usage requires the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.
86 percent of countries currently live beyond their natural resources means. If every country in the world consumed energy as America does, March 15 would be overshoot day. Currently, only five nations consume more natural resources than America.
Population growth and food waste are two of the most significant contributing factors. 1.3 billion tons, or 33 percent, of the food produced every year, is wasted. The release of carbon is another factor. Carbon levels make up 60 percent of the ecological footprint. Reducing the world’s carbon footprint would help in stopping the early occurrence; of overshoot day.
Water is one of the most depleted natural resources. By 2025, the United Nations predicts that 1.8 billion people will reside in countries experiencing total water scarcity. By 2030, 24 to 700 million people will be displaced due to water scarcity.
Another natural resource that is quickly disappearing is phosphorous. Essential to the growth of plants, it’s predicted the world will run out of this element in the next 100 years if new reserves are not found.
While the stats seem grim, some improvements have happened over the years. Both the United States and some European countries have grown economically while consuming less energy. This is partially due to more efficient manufacturing techniques, lower cost of renewable energy, and stabilized populations.