The Earth is a pretty amazing thing. Every year, it regenerates an enormous amount of the environmental resources – water, soil and clean air – that we humans use up. But in the last few decades we've started using substantially more of those resources than can be replaced every year.
That's why, in 1986, environmental groups began calculating the day each year on which we go over our limit and start living on credit. This year, the day falls on 2 August. "By August 2, 2017, we will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year," the WWF and Global Footprint Network in a statement.
"In other words, humanity is currently using nature 1.7 times faster than ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.7 Earths. This means that in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period."
Earlier and earlier
The milestone arrives earlier and earlier every year. In 1987, the first year it was calculated for, it fell on 19 December. In 1995 it was 21 November. In 2007 it was 26 October. About 60% of humanity's ecological 'footprint' comes from burning coal, oil and gas.
There is a silver lining to this bad news, though. The rate at which Earth Overshoot Day is moving up the calendar is slowing down, the groups say. To slow that rate further, we (meaning: you) need to eat less meat, burn less fuel and cut back on food waste.