Today is Earth Overshoot Day. Happy Earth Overshoot Day! This is a scientific term for the day each year when we’ve consumed natural resources at a rate beyond which our planet can replenish, and have produced more waste than can be reabsorbed, according to the Global Footprint Network, a think tank based in the U.S., Switzerland, and Belgium.
The holiday was originally conceived of by Andrew Simms, of the U.K. think tank New Economics Foundation. This year, it falls on August 20, two days earlier than it came last year, following a relatively steady trend since 2001: falling about three days earlier each year. (Humanity first went into overshoot in 1970; that year, Earth Overshoot Day fell on December 29.)
To calculate the date, the Global Footprint Network figures out how many days of a particular year the Earth’s biocapacity can provide for the total ecological footprint. So, world biocapacity divided by world ecological footprint times 365 equals Earth Overshoot Day. The think tank calculates biocapacity by looking at the amount of productive area (both land and sea) available to provide resources and to absorb wastes under the constraints of current technology and management practices.
So it’s official: give it a few more years and we’ll start off negative. We’re screwed.