Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Earth Overshoot Day 2018: Rising Demands, Finite Resources

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Sustainability

First I have to note that I am not making this announcement after the date--too often well after, my usual practice.

Today, August 1, 2018 is the date when humanity exhausted nature's budget for the year. It is the earliest date since these records began in 1970.

The event is known as Earth Overshoot Day.

What this means is that humans used more ecological resources than nature is able to regenerate and we are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb. To put it another way, humans are using natural resources as though we were 1.7 earths.

Is there more for us to consider? Michigan State University's Robert Richardson provides an important perspective in a discussion of methodology. These are a few points.
 
--What is measured is primarily "humans' carbon footprint." There are many other impacts.
--Footprint measurements equate sustainability with self-sufficiency, assuming that "every nation should produce all of the resources it consumes, even though it might be less expensive for countries to import some goods than to produce them at home."
--The two key categories for producing food--cropland and grazing land--are defined in such a way that they can never be in deficit. And the analysis does not reflect environmental consequences of human use of those lands, such as soil erosion, nutrient runoff or overuse of water. It measures only land area."
--The calculations do not "reflect the decline in natural capital from exracting a nonrewable resource.

Richardson's analysis provides more details and I hope you read it.

Remember, this is an average with some countries above and others below. The Earth Overshoot Day has information about individual nations.


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