The Green Book
Where the Wild Things Were
How Conservation Efforts are Faltering
The Globalization of Animal Welfare
More Food Does Not Require More Suffering
Africa’s Anti-Poaching Problem
How Wildlife Trade Bans Are Failing the Continent's Animals
How Technology Is Transforming Conservation
Animal Rights, Animal Wrongs
The Case for Nonhuman Personhood
The Day the Earth Ran Out
The Causes and Consequences of Earth Overshoot Day
Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now
The Club of Rome’s Problem—and Ours
Is Growth Good?
Resources, Development, and the Future of the Planet
No Wars for Water
Why Climate Change Has Not Led to Conflict
The Devolution of the Seas
The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction
How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry
Farming Qat, Wasting Water
Suicide By Drought
How China is Destroying Its Own Water Supply
A Light in the Forest
Brazil's Fight to Save the Amazon and Climate-Change Diplomacy
The Reincarnation Machine
From Cars to Skyscrapers, Indiana to Shandong
The Great Leap Backward?
Pollution Without Revolution
Why China's Environmental Crisis Won't Bring Down the Regime
Harder to Breathe
India's Pollution Crisis—And What To Do About It
Why We Still Need Nuclear Power
Making Clean Energy Safe and Affordable
Tough Love for Renewable Energy
Making Wind and Solar Power Affordable
Cleaning Up Coal
From Climate Culprit to Solution
Don't Just Drill, Baby -- Drill Carefully
How to Make Fracking Safer for the Environment
How Chinese Innovation is Changing Green Technology
Beijing's Big Gamble on Renewables
The First Cold War
The Environmental Lessons of the Little Ice Age
The Geoengineering Option
A Last Resort Against Global Warming?
The Truth About Geoengineering
Science Fiction and Science Fact
The Climate Threat We Can Beat
What It Is and How to Deal With It
How Big Business Can Save the Climate
Multinational Corporations Can Succeed Where Governments Have Failed
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 waste). They then multiply the quotient by 365, the number of days in a calendar year. That number reveals Earth Overshoot Day. This year, that day arrived two days sooner than it did last year. It has come earlier, by about three days each year, since 2001.
Both biocapacity and ecological footprint are measured in global hectares, a common unit that encompasses the average productivity of all the biologically productive land and sea area in the world in a given year. Measurements are drawn from Global Footprint Network’s National Footprint Accounts, datasets for more than 230 countries, territories, and regions that contain more than 6,000 annually gathered data points per country. Although not yet perfect, these accounts provide the most comprehensive available aggregate indicator of human pressure on ecosystems.
Earth Overshoot Day is an approximation, but it is yet one more sign that humanity is consuming the planet’s finite resources at an unsustainable rate. In 2013, humanity requires the equivalent of approximately 1.5 earths to produce the goods and services our lifestyles demand in one year and to absorb the attendant CO2emissions and other
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