Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Is the world in ecological deficit?

According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), October 9th was 'World Overshoot Day'. This is the day by which we have used up all of the earth's natural resources that have been produced this year. According to the GFN;

As humanity’s consumption of resources increases World Overshoot Day creeps earlier on the calendar. Humanity’s first Overshoot Day was December 19, 1987. By 1995 it had jumped back a month to 21 November. Today, with Overshoot Day on October 9, humanity's Ecological Footprint is almost thirty per cent larger than the planet’s biocapacity this year. In other words, it now takes more than one year and three months for the Earth to regenerate what we use in a single year.

No doubt there are some heroic assumptions that have gone into these estimations, but the concept of the ecological footprint is well established and is a topic that Rob and I are currently doing some work on. Nevertheless, issues suchs as international trade and technological change muddy the waters considerably and make the very idea of an ecological footprint difficult to pin down. So take the message behind World Overshoot Day seriously, but don't get too hung up on the actual figures.


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