"Earth Overshoot Day" Arrived Even Earlier in 2016

Humanity just blew through its annual ecological budget in eight months.


Monday is Earth Overshoot Day, a date to commemorate the fact that the planet is really, really not okay right now. By August 8, humanity will have used more natural resources than the planet can hope to replenish in a year.

The day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network, a nonprofit organization that campaigns for a sustainable future. Earth Overshoot Day is aimed at raising awareness around ecological resource usage.

The date is only drawing earlier as the years progress. Last year, the date fell on August 13, whereas in 2014 the overshoot fell on August 19. The organization calculates the overshoot day using a simple formula:

(Planet’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

A key component of the calculation comes from the global carbon footprint. Whereas 100 years ago the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped out was a small fraction of our overall ecological resource usage, the share has shot up in recent decades, making carbon emissions a major driver of resource overshoot.

Anyone who’s read a climate change story in the past decade will know that it’s not good news. With rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, and even a rising risk of shark attacks, there are plenty of reasons to want to reduce carbon emissions.

Fortunately, there is a small silver lining. The rate at which the day is getting earlier is decreasing. After the planet started overshooting its resource usage in the early 1970s, the day would roll around three days sooner every year. Now, the Global Footprint Network claims that overshoot increase has dropped to less than one day closer per year on average, when looking at the past five years.

The Paris Agreement has also set new internationally-agreed limits on how much higher carbon emissions can go from here. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio have also been using their star power to turn up the heat on complacent bigwigs that don’t see rising temperatures as a problem.

Hopefully next year, Earth Overshoot Day actually slips back on the calendar. If it doesn’t, it may not be long before Inverse is reporting to you live from the bottom of the ocean.

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