August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day - the day this year that humanity has used up nature's resource budget for all of 2013. For the rest of the year, mankind will engage in ecological deficit spending by drawing down resources and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Twenty years ago Earth Overshoot Day happened on October 21. Ten years ago it was September 22. Each year humanity increases its demands on nature's bounty a bit more and Earth Overshoot Day moves up a few days on the calendar. By 2050 when the Earth's population is expected to reach 9 billion (currently about 7.2 billion), the pressure on nature's resources will be enormous. Finite resources and seemingly unlimited population growth = disaster.
Some nations, such as the U.S. and much of Western Europe are ecological debtors based on the per capita demand for ecological assets versus the availability of those assets. Other nations, Brazil for example, are ecological creditors. Check out the ecological footprint of nations and how it changed from 1961 to 2007 in this neat interactive map.
It would be great if governments enacted policies to encourage or require businesses and individuals to conserve resources. But, since that is only likely to happen in a limited way, what can you and I do to reduce our personal footprints and tread more lightly on the earth's resources? Take this quiz to find ways to reduce your family's consumption and ecological footprint (and perhaps save some money, too).
Learn more about the Global Footprint Network and steps nations, businesses, and individuals can take to get on the path to sustainability before the Earth's ecological budget in busted.
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