Overshoot Day trends: good news or bad news?

All - Sep 06 2018

Earths equivalent trend (capita and GDP)

People consume the Earth’s natural resources to produce what they need. However, there are only so many resources that the planet can renew and so much carbon it can absorb in one year. The “Earth Overshoot Day” represents the date when the planet’s ecological footprint exceeds its biological capacity. Put more simply, it is the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year and starts depleting resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This year it happened on August 1st.

1970 was the last year where humankind consumption and earth production were on par with each other. At this time, the “Earth Overshoot Day” was on December 29 but the global population has more than doubled since then and GDP has quadrupled. This means that global efficiency has been increasing for the last 50 years. Despite an improved quality of life and wealth creation, individual footprint tends to be quite stable since the early nineties- around 0.22 earth by billion people. Accordingly, the current average consumption structure is consistent with about 4.5 billion people far from the 11 billion forecasted in 2100. Finally, the theory of collapse emphasizes the fact that, at a certain level of overexploitation, the earth’s renewable capacity will drop, inducing a terrible vicious cycle. Current figures and trends seem to indicate that we are not (yet ?) at this breaking point.

Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science Dpt.  –  Sources: Beyond Ratings, Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day, UN, World Bank

 

 

 

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