Earth on downward ecological spiral for 46 years

1 August 2017

Media Releases 2017

Sustainable Population Australia Inc.

Patrons: Hon. Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Prof Tim Flannery, Em Prof Ian Lowe, Dr Mary E White

Youth Ambassador: Ms Bindi Irwin


This year, 2 August is Earth Overshoot Day, the day we have spent 100 per cent of this year’s ecological income. It marks the 46th year that we are using more ecological services than the Earth can provide, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

SPA National President, Dr James Ward, says every year the day gets earlier and earlier.

“This year, it is 2 August. Last year it was 8 August; in 2015 13 August and in 2014, 19 August. From 1997 to 2004 it was in September,” says Dr Ward. “We lived within our ecological means up until 1971 and have been on a downhill spiral ever since.”

Dr Ward says there are too many people in the world using too many resources and creating too many wastes which are beyond the Earth’s absorptive capacity.

“While we are morally obliged to lift people out of poverty, it comes at further ecological cost,” says Dr Ward. “To counteract this, we in the wealthier countries have to reduce resource consumption and shift technologies to emit far less carbon.

“We are eating into our capital which means that the assets future generations will inherit will be smaller than we ourselves inherited,” says Dr Ward.

“This shrinking asset base is currently spread amongst an ever-increasing number of people, which makes the situation much worse.

“Thus, to stop this downward spiral, we have to do whatever we can to end population growth as soon as possible. It must be voluntary but it can be achieved through greater environmental awareness, universal access to modern contraception, as well as equal rights for and the education of women and girls.”

Further information: Dr James Ward:


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