Living on borrowed time: Earth Overshoot Day on 2 August means the rest of the year is in overshoot
Tomorrow, 2 August, is Earth Overshoot Day for this year, the date on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year is estimated to exceed Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources. By the end of the year, we will have used 1.7 times the sustainable resource limit.
According to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), that’s bad enough, but Australia’s Overshoot Day is 23 March, a week before a quarter of the year is up.
That means, if everyone in the world lived as Australians do, we would need more than four planet Earths to supply the needed resources and absorb our wastes, says SPA National President Ms Jenny Goldie.
“The earlier in the year, the worse the level of overshoot,” says Ms Goldie. “Clearly, we have too many people demanding too much of our landscapes and seascapes.
“I ask Prime Minister Albanese: Do you not understand that Australia is on an unsustainable trajectory or do you really believe that Australia is entitled to an unfair and unsustainable share of Earth’s finite resources?”
“The 2021 State of Environment – Australia report says that the environment is deteriorating, including biodiversity.
“The report says: ‘Human activity and population growth are major drivers of many pressures on biodiversity. Impacts are associated with urban expansion, tourism, industrial expansion, pollution, fishing, hunting and development of infrastructure. The impacts from population growth are extensive and increasing in many areas.’”
Ms Goldie says that with population growth running at nearly 2% a year now, we are rapidly adding to the pressures on our environment.
“To prevent overshoot, Australians should reduce our use of energy and resources per person to less than a quarter. But if our population is also growing, that means Earth can support an even smaller footprint for each person.
“The current world population is 8.1 billion and growing by well over 70 million a year. This is simply not sustainable. It is reflected in the catastrophic state of our climate. Records are breaking everywhere with the hottest July for over 120,000 years, declining sea-ice, high sea-surface temperatures and freshwater pouring into the North Atlantic, threatening to shut off the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that will have far-reaching effects around the globe.
“It’s not just climate; we are in the Sixth Mass Extinction event. Other species’ habitats are being lost through human activities, largely to grow food, fibre and shelter for ever more people.
“Population growth has to stop as soon as possible – now and everywhere.”