If Earth’s resources were a bank account, today would mark the date we’d officially be in the red.
As of July 29, humanity has officially used up more ecological resources this year than the Earth can regenerate by the end of the year. The occasion even has a name: Earth Overshoot Day.
The Global Footprint Network, a sustainability organization which calculates the day, says humanity is currently consuming nature 1.75 times faster than the planet can regenerate.
That means we’re overspending our natural capital, compromising resources in the future as a result and leading to things like deforestation and carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere.
And more carbon dioxide brings ever increasing climate change, the network says.
It’s getting worse, too.
The date has moved up two months over the past 20 years, and July 29 marks the earliest the date has ever landed.
“We have only got one Earth — this is the ultimately defining context for human existence. We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences,” said Mathis Wackernagel, founder of Global Footprint Network, in a statement.
The data comes months after a grim UN report
The United States is one of the worst culprits.
If the entire world’s population lived like Americans, the organization said, we would need five Earths to meet our demands. That’s compared to countries like France or the United Kingdom, which would need less than three, though that still isn’t ideal.
And, even though poorer countries aren’t the ones overusing resources, they are the ones typically paying the costs. Research shows that climate change will more drastically affect poorer countries before wealthier ones like the US.
This data comes months after the United Nations released a landmark report, saying that humanity’s pace of environmental destruction could endanger the “ecological foundations of society.”
Continuing at the current pace, the report said, would create a global health emergency — potentially leading to millions of deaths from air pollution in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and creating antimicrobial-resistant infections from freshwater pollution.