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Ecological Debt Day, also known as “Earth Overshoot Day”, is the calendar date in which the total resources consumed by humanity will exceed the capacity for the Earth to generate those resources that year. Each year it is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity, the number of natural resources generated by the earth that year, divided by the world Ecological Footprint, humanity’s consumption of the Earth’s natural resources for that year, and multiplied by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian calendar year; expressed as:

[ world biocapacity / world Ecological Footprint ] x 365 = Ecological Debt Day

When viewed through an economic perspective, Ecological Debt Day/Earth Overshoot Day represents the day in which humanity enters deficit spending, scientifically termed “overshoot”. In recent years this issue has gained notoriety as it appears to represent a trend rather than a freak occurrence [1].

HistoryEdit

Though humanity first went into overshoot in 1986, Ecological Debt Day was first observed on December 19, 1987. Before that date, humanity’s consumption of the Earth’s natural resources was outweighed by the Earth’s ability to regenerate its resources. To elicit discussion on the topic of natural resource consumption, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) marked Ecological Debt Day on that calendar year. Every year since then, NEF has calculated the calendar date of Ecological Debt Day for each subsequent year using the above formula. Ecological Debt Day has on average, each year fallen on an earlier date than the previous year. The authors of Ecological Debt Day argue that this fact constitutes a notorious trend in human society, in which humanity is falling deep into ecological debt.

File:Human welfare and ecological footprint.jpg
Year Overshoot Date
1987 December 19
1990 December 7
1995 November 21
2000 November 1
2005 October 20
2007 October 26
2008 September 23
2009 September 25
2010 August 21

Factors Behind Ecological Debt DayEdit

Ecological Debt Day is founded upon two scientific measures; humanity’s Ecological Footprint and the Earth’s biocapacity.

Humanity’s Ecological Footprint for the specific calendar year is an important component of both calculating Ecological Debt for that year and for the general idea behind Ecological Debt Day. One’s Ecological Footprint, be it of the world, a nation, a town, or of an individual represents the impact that entity made on the Earth that year by consuming a set amount of the Earth’s resources. The general Ecological Debt of each year is calculated by factoring in the world’s Ecological Footprint, however, each nation’s individual date on which it will reach Ecological Debt can be calculated by substituting that nation’s Ecological Footprint for a specific year in place of that of the world’s.

The other leading factor in determining date on which Ecological Debt occurs for a given year is the biocapacity of the Earth for that year. By engaging in activities that diminish the production cycles of natural resources, which can be the resources themselves, such as depleting forests for timber, humanity lessens the Earth’s biocapacity so that the number of resources able to be produced that year will be less than that of the year before. When viewed in terms of monetary debt, this idea can seen as compounding interest on an unpaid loan. Due to this factor, humanity’s over-consumption of the Earth’s natural resources is shown to be unsustainable as the Earth’s biocapacity will eventually collapse should this behavior continue. The Global Footprint Network, a partner of NEF, has calculated that humanity used 40% more resources in 2008 than the Earth was able to produce that year.

Interplay of FactorsEdit

Ecological Debt Day draws on the fact that due to these resources being finite, humanities recent trend of consuming more resources than the Earth can produce each year constitutes a negative, unsustainable trend, termed overshoot. Ecological Debt Day is conveyed using economic imagery of monetary debt as a means of reaching the general public rather than just the scientific community.

Debate On the Subject of Global Climate ChangeEdit

Though an increasing trend is presently taking place in the number of scientists and citizens in support of the theory that global climate change is occurring at an accelerated pace due to human influences as declared in the International Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report [2], a significant number of unbelievers exist as wellTemplate:Who. The results of a recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that 33% of white evangelicals, 22% of catholics, and 18% of people unaffiliated with any religion believe there is not enough scientific evidence at this time to support global climate change [3].

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

nl:Earth Overshoot Day pl:Dzień Długu Ekologicznego sv:Den ekologiska skuldens dag zh:地球生態越界日

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