Outspending the Earth – and what we can do about it

Earth Overshoot Day logoPlanet Earth crossed into the ecological red last Friday. Thursday August 13 marked Earth Overshoot Day, the day when the world’s population officially exhausts all the natural resources the Earth can generate in a single year, as defined by the sustainability think tank, Global Footprint Network.

In daily life when we overspend our income we have to dig into savings. It’s no different when we outspend the earth. We currently spend 60% more of the earth’s resources than it can regenerate. When this happens we start to dig into the saved resources of the planet. Since the earth’s resources are limited, we are on the road to environmental bankruptcy. The problem has been getting worse each year. For instance, in 2000, Earth Overshoot Day landed in October. Its occurrence in August this year reflects the rapidly expanding demands placed on the planet’s natural resources.

What can we do about it? The most powerful thing we can do is change our diet. We are literally eating the earth broke. Many people are very surprised to learn that the growing global desire for meat is behind much, if not most, of the ecological challenges facing us today. Consider that we use 1/3 of the earth’s usable landmass directly or indirectly (such as growing feed) just to raise meat. According to the WorldWatch Institute, raising meat causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all other causes put together. Raising meat is also the single largest cause of soil erosion and rainforest destruction. And if all that weren’t bad enough, it’s also a leading cause of water pollution, and fishing is a leading cause ecological destruction in the ocean.