CREDIT: Courtesy the Global Footprint Network Carbon is just part of a system we all draw on.
by Samantha Page Aug 13, 2015 12:32pm
On this day in August 2015, humans have used an entire year’s worth of the Earth’s natural resources, according to the Global Footprint Network. Calling it Earth Overshoot Day, the group celebrates — or, rather, notes — the day by which people have used more natural resources, such as fish stocks, timber, and even carbon emissions, than the Earth can regenerate in a single year. It’s basically a balance sheet for global accounting. “We can overuse nature quite easily,” Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network, told ThinkProgress. “When you start to spend more than you earn, it does not become immediately apparent. But, eventually, you go bankrupt.”
It’s a simple idea, really. “If a sea lion eats a fish, that fish is not available for me to eat,” Wackernagel said. But this philosophy works for carbon, as well. (And it’s usually people using up the natural resources, not sea lions).n The balance sheet helps show that our carbon footprint is linked to other natural resources, such as cropland and forest. Land can be used as forest, which absorbs carbon, or pavement, which does not. If we want to continue to emit carbon, we need to have areas that absorb it more quickly. “It’s all a question of priorities, in some ways,” Wackernagel said. And while our deficit spending of natural resources has improved on many fronts, the group found, carbon emissions are getting worse. These findings are consistent with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which announced in May that Earth surpassed the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark for the average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide for the first time since record-keeping began [According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 400.83 parts per million (ppm) was the average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in March. This news from NOAA marks the first time that the entire planet has surpassed the 400 ppm benchmark for an entire month.] ….