In the red: humanity’s demands exceed Earth’s available resources
Brussels: Today, 20 August, is Earth Overshoot Day – when humanity has used as much renewable natural resources as our planet can regenerate in one year. For the rest of 2013, we are “in the red” – effectively “overdrawn” on the balance sheet of nature’s goods and services that we require to survive.
Based on Ecological Footprint data – measuring how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what – Earth Overshoot Day is an initiative of WWF’s partner, the Global Footprint Network, to raise awareness and inspire action around ecological “overspending”.
Climate change is a major impact of overshoot, as using fossil fuels causes harmful emissions of carbon dioxide that the planet simply cannot absorb. Forests are shrinking, fish stocks are waning, land degrading, freshwater resources are dwindling, and biological diversity is depleting.
Quote from Tony Long, Director, WWF European Policy Office
“Nature is the basis of our wellbeing and our prosperity – but we are using up way too much of the finite resources available on this planet. The WWF’s Living Planet Report shows that Europe is putting an unbearable strain on our plant’s capacity to sustain us. If every country in the world was to consume natural resources in the same way as an average European, then we would need 2.66 planets to sustain our current consumption levels.”
“Europe is also exporting many of its problems abroad. Between 1990 and 2008 tropical forests, in areas three times the size of Belgium, were cleared for growing agricultural produce destined for the EU. We are effectively using our share of our resources and those of other countries too.”
• In 1961, the year WWF was established, humanity was using two thirds of the Earth’s available natural resources and most countries had ecological reserves – meaning our footprint was lighter and more sustainable.
• By taking action now we can reverse the trend.
• WWF’s and Friends of Europe’s LiveWell for LIFE project looks at health, nutrition, carbon and affordability and demonstrates how low-carbon healthy diets can help us achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the EU food supply chain. Some of our Our experts estimate that a 25% reduction in Green House Gases in Europe is possible with a diet that meets national dietary guidelines. http://livewellforlife.eu/
• More than 50 per cent of humanity's Ecological Footprint is composed of our carbon footprint, especially from the burning of fossil fuels. WWF is currently running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, pressing for much greater investment in renewable energies.
Notes to editor:
- WWF is now running a global campaign, “Seize Your Power”, encouraging funding to be channelled into renewable energy worldwide. More here: www.panda.org/syp
- WWF’s Living Planet Report is published in partnership with the Global Footprint Network every two years. The next edition is due in September 2014. More here: www.panda.org/lpr
- Join the Earth Overshoot Day conversation with WWF on Twitter and Facebook.
About Global Footprint Network
The Global Footprint Network is an international sustainability think tank established to enable a sustainable future where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of one planet. An essential step in creating a one-planet future is measuring human impact, or footprint, on the Earth – so we can make more informed choices. www.footprintnetwork.org