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The Day the Earth Ran Out

The Causes and Consequences of Earth Overshoot Day

Officials from the China's Water Conservancy Bureau walk on the fringe of a desert, which has been planted with grass to prevent desertification, December 8, 2010. Courtesy Reuters

Many readers will be familiar with the worrisome, white-knuckle wait that comes when you drain your checking account long before payday, the anxiety that builds until the coffers are replenished. That is what all of humanity has signed on for, effective today.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the moment when, according to Global Footprint Network, an independent think tank based in the United States, Switzerland, and Belgium, humanity’s demand for natural resources exceeds the earth’s ability to renew them in a year. As of today, just 34 weeks into 2013, we are officially in ecological overdraft.

Scientists and data-crunchers at Global Footprint Network calculate Earth Overshoot Day by dividing the earth’s current biocapacity (the area of land and water available to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 emissions) by the world’s ecological footprint (the area of land and water required to meet humanity’s demand for resources and absorb

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