Today marks ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ for the year

Photograph: Corbis Source: The Guardian dot com

Andrew Simms explains, Earth Overshoot Day: ‘an estimate of the moment in the year when humanity has consumed more natural resources and created more waste than our biosphere can replace and safely absorb over a 12-month period.

Simms refers to the environmental deficit that results from humans’ industrialized carbon footprint.  He begins with the politics of austerity:

Two contradictory ideas shape UK politics. First, the argument for austerity, that the nation cannot and should not live beyond its financial means. Second, the notion that we can and must, in effect, live beyond our environmental means. That is why any increase in our spending and consumption is hailed as economic success.

Simms addresses the IPCC data, implying that our over-consumption of natural resources and unresolved waste issues cause global warming.  I do not think that these two are related.  I do believe that our continual ‘environmental deficit’ results in degradation of the air we breath, the water we drink and food we eat.  Our over consumption results in loss of species, including our own.  We are a part of the food chain.  Without our pollinators, we are sunk.

As far as future climate is concerned, I’m happy to see scientists and astrophysicists paying attention.  There have been apocalyptic times when Earth was shaken, even devastated by space weather events.  Weather on our planet has been erratic recently, lots of volcanic activity, sinkholes, storms, you name it.

We are tiny beings compared to the universe.  Our Earth shows remarkable self-healing abilities and there’s nothing we can do that will not heal in due time.  Even radiation releases and all the myriad of chemicals made in labs will be recycled, digested by mushrooms and the soil.  We can destroy ourselves though, and make life really hard for plants and animals that need clean air, water, food and habitable land.

Simms expresses this idea in the title of his editorial, Never mind the economic deficit,” but, “What about the environmental one?”

His comment continues:

Since the 1970s we’ve been living beyond our means, going into ecological deficit before the end of each year. And, the day when we hit “overshoot” has been creeping ever earlier. This year it falls two days earlier than in 2012. It now takes about 18 months for the biosphere to compensate for a year’s worth of human consumption and waste. Conservatively, here in the UK we’re using the equivalent of three and a half times the natural resources we have as a nation. For a country like Japan the figure is seven times. Many low-consuming countries in Africa are ecological creditors. Indonesia has been a creditor, but rising consumption and deforestation are running down its natural assets and pushing it over the brink.

Read more at the Guardian, click here.

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