Each year, humans use more of the planet’s natural resources than it is able to regenerate. According to Robert Costanza et al in 2014, we are losing the estimated net value of approximately $20 trillion a year. The day of the year when we have used all of the wood, water, and other resources that the planet will produce for this year is named overshoot day, and we are reaching it earlier every year.
We’ve managed to kill off roughly 52% of wild animals in 40 years, and have been in increasing ecological debt since about 1980. Your relative impact in this depends on where and how you live. The U.S. is the world’s 9th-biggest resource hog, using 310% of its resource capacity,according to Global Footprint Network data. Top offenders are the United Arab Emirates (750%), Singapore (590%) and Belgium (460%.)
The earth is going into ecological debt earlier each year, The Guardian notes. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day is six days ahead of last year’s, and months earlier than in 2000, when it arrived in October.
Global Footprint Network and other experts say addressing the growing problem of overconsumption (often referred to as overpopulation to avoid the real issue) is a cornerstone of reducing ecological debt.
John R. Wilmoth, director of the United Nations Population Division, announced Monday that the world population of 7.3 billion people is predicted to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050 and up to 13.3 billion by 2100. He said there’s only a 23 percent chance that the world’s population will stop growing before the end of the century, and this means ecological game-over unless we get our resource-consumption in check (for instance by relying less on animal agriculture).