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World has already used nature’s budget for year, and Australia is worst offender

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The world has already consumed its nature “budget”for the entire year, and Australia has been identified as the worst offending country among major economies. If everyone lived like the average Australian, the world’s nature budget for the year would have been consumed in early March.

earth graphA California-based research organisation called the Global Footprint Network says that August 2 marked the day that the world used the last of “nature’s “budget” for the year. “Earth Overshoot Day” marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

The world started consuming more than it can regenerate in the early 1970s, the organisation said, and this year  is the earliest “overshoot” date yet.

“In other words, humanity is currently using nature 1.7 times faster than ecosystems can regenerate,” the organisation says. “This is akin to using 1.7 Earths.”

Global Footprint Network says the costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident around the world, in the form of deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Australia, see table to the right, is the worst offender, consuming the equivalent of 5.2 worlds

GFN says its target is to move Earth Overshoot Day back 4.5 days every year. If this occurred, then the world would return to using the resources of one planet by 2050.

It suggests it can do this by cutting food waste by 50 per cent, which would move the date by 11 days; or reducing the carbon component by 50 per cent, which would move the date of Overshoot Day by 89 days.

This requires systemic change, but there are encouraging signs, Global Footprint Network says.

how many countries graphThe US per capita Ecological Footprint fell nearly 20 per cent from its peak in 2005 to 2013 (the latest year data is available), which is associated mostly with decreasing carbon emissions.

Over the same period, US per capita GDP grew about 20 per cent, making the US a compelling case of decoupling (with economic growth and natural resource consumption following opposite trends).

And despite the current US national government’s backtracking on climate protection, many US cities, states and large businesses are redoubling their commitments.

To calculate individual Overshoot Day and Ecological Footprint, go to: www.footprintcalculator.org  

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  • Ren Stimpy

    It’s not a problem. It’s seriously not a problem. This conservative controlled bullshit hollow government will be thrown out on its tit, and after that we can get on with solving modern problems. There’s no way we can postpone it ANOTHER term.

  • MaxG

    Very saddening indeed… I knew UA was bad, but leading the pack… shocking.

  • John Goss

    Unfortunately the ecological footprint is a grossly flawed measure of ecological sustainability. But that aside, what is rarely mentioned is that although Australia’s ecological footprint at 8.8 hectares per person is very high, Australia’s biocapacity is also very high at 15.7 hectares per person. So Australia is well within it’s ecological reserve. The fact that our biocapacity is 15.7 hectares per person compared to the world’s biocapacity of 1.7 hectares per person is of course a matter of luck not good management, and there is still every reason to act to reduce our ecological footprint of 8.8 hectares per person by moving to net carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
    But according to the (admittedly flawed) ecological footprint measure, Australia is living within its means, and this should be acknowledged.

    • John Saint-Smith

      Why should we ‘acknowledge it if it is just a matter of dumb luck? I’m not even convinced you are correct. We have less fresh water and fertile soil than most similar sized countries. We couldn’t even remotely hope to support as large a population as the US, Europe or China.

  • John Goss

    I meant, of course ‘net zero carbon emissions’.

  • Miles Harding

    Relax, Gaia will take care of it !!

    The only slight problem is that the human race probably won’t be there if it doesn’t clean up it’s act fast.

    Meanwhile, loud snorting and grunting noises are emanating from the feed trough and no heads are seen popping up to look around. (sigh)

  • David Hurburgh

    The US’s reduction in carbon emissions is totally attributable to fracking and the conversion from coal-fired power stations to natural gas, which is the product of that fracking.