More articles by

Neeti Vijaykumar
Neeti Vijaykumar


Our annual quota for natural resources has expired


Earth Overshoot Day, an annual event marked by a US-based environmental think tank, assesses on how quickly humanity is consuming resources without a plan for the future.

It is the day in the year when humanity overshoots its demand for resources by replenishing the stock for the year. This time, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 8. We will be borrowing from next year's quota to get us through the next five months.

The exact day is determined through a formula that involves the amount of natural resources available on the planet and the ecological footprint produced by the world.

Global Footprint Network, which reports on sustainability, has declared the day every year since 2006. How has humanity fared since then? Not too good. In 2006, the Overshoot Day was in October. Last year, it was August 13. This time, it is five days earlier.

But we only have one planet

In the GFN National Footprint Accounts 2016, a chart displays how many 'Earths' would be required if all of humanity lived like one single country. The variations come about because of differences in the amount of resources produced and consumed, standards of living and population of each country.

For instance, if the world lived like the people in the United States, we would use up 4.8 Earths in one year. Australia topped the list at 5.4 Earths. Switzerland, South Korea and Russia came third, consuming 3.3 Earths. Japan (2.9), China (2.0) and Brazil (1.8) seemed to consume lesser, while India could do with 0.7 Earths. In total, the world uses 1.6 Earths every year.

Is India's rating a good thing?

India is still not at par with developed countries such as the US and Australia, and has a long way to go. The low rating is because of India's abysmal standards of living (more than half of the country lives in poverty), and scarcity of resources. It leaves one to wonder what would happen eventually, as India gradually moves towards the top.

In a UN report, Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity, developed nations in the North America and Europe contributed to double the ecological footprint as compared with nations in Africa and Asia.

The report also said that within India itself, there was a huge difference in the per-person ecological footprint production based on how much one earns. Those in the top 1% of the financial ladder produced 17 times more negative footprint than 40% of those at the bottom.

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Topics : #economy

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