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published on 29 July 2019 in earth

Earth Overshoot Day 2019

This year too, in fact, we have reached Earth Overshoot Day, that is the day in a given year on which the demand by mankind for ecological renewable resources (for example fish and forests) and services exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year. From tomorrow, we will begin to consume more than the planet is able to renew during the year, thus using up resources for the future too. According to calculations made by the Global Footprint Network NGO, we are using up Planet Earth at a rate 1.75 times higher than the capacity for regeneration of the ecosystems: it is as if we need 1.75 Earths to satisfy our current requirements for natural resources. If, on the contrary, we were to consider only the impact of Italy, the country with the ninth highest planetary impact, we would need no less than 2.7 planets. Obviously, we have “only” one Earth, and that means that we draw ever more frequently on the natural heritage that should be left to future generations.

To determine the overshoot date, you need to divide the planet’s biocapacity (the quantity of ecological resources that the Earth is able to generate in a year), by humanity’s ecological footprint (the demand for resources for that year) and multiply the result by 365. Each year since we began over-exploiting the Planet’s resources in the early 1970s, Earth Overshoot Day has been arriving progressively earlier. Twenty years ago, Earth Overshoot Day was on 10 October, in 1975 on 28 November, and in 1970 on 23 December. Over the last 8 years, this date has moved from the end of September to the beginning of August (it was 1 August in 2018, 2 August in 2017, 8 August in 2016, 13 August in 2015, 19 August in 2014, 20 August in 2013, 22 August in 2012, 27 September in 2011, 21 August in 2010 and 25 September in 2009). The costs of this growing ecological deficit are becoming increasingly clear in the world and we see them in the form of deforestation, draught, freshwater shortage, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
However, we can reverse this trend. If we were to postpone Overshoot Day by 4 to 5 days each year, we could go back to using the resources of one planet only by 2050. So let’s “#movethedate: move the date towards sustainability!”

With the sponsorship of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research
 
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