- In less than 8 Months we have used more natural resources than the Planet is able to produce in a 12 Month period
New Delhi: Today, 13 August 2015, marks the day when we have used up nature’s budget for the entire year. This means that humanity’s ecological footprint exceeds what the Earth can regenerate this year. The Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to 13 August this year. The rate at which we are consuming has put tremendous pressure on our resources, which would ultimately move Earth Overshoot Day to May 8.
According to the Living Planet Report 2014 released by WWF, humanity’s demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent larger than what nature can renew – meaning it would take1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current demand. While India is the third largest Green House Gas emitter of the world, we are still better placed than other developing and developed countries. China and UK, for instance, would require almost three such countries of its size to sustain its consumption. Japan would need 5.5 countries of its own size to meet its consumption requirements. At the current rate, Indians would need two of our own country to sustain our current consumption.
The traditional practices that are engrained in our lives have been sustainable and environment- friendly. India has also consistently had one of the lowest per capita footprints, among the lowest 15 per cent of all countries for 2011. Our history of ecological footprint and lifestyle can be clearly seen in the traditional agricultural practices, food habits, traditional building design, culture of recycle and reuse, minimizing wastage, judicious use of electrical appliances, etc. But with our advancing lifestyle, we seem to have placed these practices on the backseat. Earth Overshoot Day is a reminder that we need to imbibe our traditional sustainable practices, embrace newer sustainable lifestyle and inspire others towards ecologically conscious actions. This is where the emerging middle class of India can play a pivotal role by making sustainable consumer choices.
“The fact that Earth Overshoot Day has been moving to earlier months, is a living testimony that we are consuming unsustainably to meet our aspirations. While India is already at the forefront of many low-carbon actions, we need to be conscious of our emerging consumption patterns. We need to have collective efforts enabled by individual and institutional action, including business and corporate, and work towards long term solutions to address the issue of ecological debt,” said Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India.
The costs of ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day, in the form of deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and global warming. Carbon emissions continue pushing the Ecological Footprint further above the planet’s annual budget. Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled between 1961 and 1973, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. The carbon footprint is inextricably linked to the other components of the Ecological Footprint — cropland, grazing land, forests and productive land built over with buildings and roads. All these demands compete for ecological space.
The Earth Overshoot Day is especially significant this year as the world awaits a new climate agreement at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris this December. Countries are already geared up in preparing their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), with some countries already submitting their contributions. These contributions, responsive to the specific national circumstances, will play a huge role in addressing the overall challenge of ecological overspending.