A sign warns of extreme heat as tourists enter Death Valley National Park in California.(Reuters File Photo)
A sign warns of extreme heat as tourists enter Death Valley National Park in California.(Reuters File Photo)

Humans overshoot 2020 planetary ‘budget’ on August 22

So-called Earth Overshoot Day - the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth can renew annually - has crept steadily earlier since the 1970s, according to the Global Footprint Network.
London | By Agence France-Presse | Posted by Kanishka Sarkar
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2020 12:59 AM IST

Humanity will have burned through all the natural resources that the planet can replenish for 2020 by this Saturday, according to researchers who said the grim milestone is slightly later than last year after the pandemic slowed runaway overconsumption.

So-called Earth Overshoot Day - the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth can renew annually - has crept steadily earlier since the 1970s, according to the Global Footprint Network.

The group calculates the point will be reached on August 22, compared to July 29 in 2019, marking a rare reversal after lockdowns to slow the coronavirus caused a temporary decline in emissions and wood harvesting. This reduced humanity’s footprint by 9.3% compared to last year, they said.

But that is “not something to celebrate”, said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network, in an online presentation on Thursday. “It’s not done by design, it’s done by disaster,” he added.

Researchers calculate the date humanity overshoots its planetary budget by looking at “all the human demands” for food, energy, space for houses and roads and what would be needed to absorb global C02 emissions, Wackernagel said. “It’s like with money. We can spend more than what we earned, but not forever.”

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