August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day 2013, marking the date when humanity exhausted nature’s budget for the year. We are now operating in overdraft. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for and supply of natural resources and ecological services. And the data is sobering. Global Footprint Network estimates that in approximately eight months, we demand more renewable resources and C02 sequestration than what the planet can provide for an entire year.
Not all countries demand more resources and services than their ecosystems can provide. Australia, for example, uses half the capacity of Australia but its ecological reserve has been eroding over time.
We are well over budget, and that debt is compounding. It is an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt—food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO₂ in our atmosphere—comes with devastating human and monetary costs.