August 19, 2014: What did this date mean to you? It may have been a birthday, wedding day or another type of anniversary. For humanity, it was Earth Overshoot Day, the approximate date on which we have exceeded our global Ecological Footprint. In other words, we have now used up more of the earth’s resources in 2014 than the planet will be able to regenerate within this year. This milestone is occurring sooner and sooner each year.
In 1990, this date fell on December 24 and last year it was on August 20. This year it took humanity less than eight months to consume what the earth produces in one year. This means that we have to “borrow” natural resources from future generations in the remaining four months of the year. And borrowing incurs debt. That’s why this day is also known as Ecological Debt Day. Our descendents will have to pay for our overspending in the future.
So, let’s start repaying a little, one bit at a time by having a short shower rather than a bath, taking reusable plastic bags when we shop, reducing electricity and water consumption, buying local produce whenever possible, recycling cardboard and paper and composting organic matter. Small actions can make a big difference and hopefully one day we will be able to “push back” the overshoot date.