UPSC Mains General Studies Paper III

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Earth Overshoot Day 2018 to fall on 1st August

  • Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 1 this year
  • This is the earliest date since ecological overshoot began in early 1970s.
  • This year the overshoot day falls a day earlier than the last year’s.

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

  • It’s the date on which annual demand of humanity on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year.
  • Last year’s Earth Overshoot Day fell on Aug. 2, just a day behind the date announced for 2018.
  • The date, which was previously known as Ecological Debt Day, has occurred steadily earlier since 1971.
  • In 1971, the date Earth Overshoot Day fell on Dec. 21

Who calculates the Earth Overshoot Day?

  • It is calculated by Global Footprint Network and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • About Global Footprint Network: It is an international nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to enable a sustainable future where all people have opportunity to thrive within the means of one planet.
  • Functions of Global Footprint Network: It develops and promotes tools for advancing sustainability, including ecological footprint and biocapacity, which measures the amount of resources we use and how much we have. These tools aim at bringing ecological limits to center of decision-making.

Earth Overshoot Day Climate Change

How is Earth Overshoot Day calculated?

  • Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world’s biocapacity by the world’s ecological footprint and multiplying by 365 i.e. the number of days in one Gregorian common calendar year.
  • World’s Biocapacity : the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year
  • World’s ecological footprint: the humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year

What are the major reasons for early Earth Overshoot happening ?

  • The two greatest contributing factors to humanity’s Ecological Footprint are carbon emissions, which accounts for 60%, and food, 26%.
  • If we cut our carbon emissions by half, according to the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day would come 89 days later in the year.
  • If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we could move the date back 11 days.
  • Also by eating less protein-intensive food, we could move it back 31 days.

What is the rate of current Human Consumption of the Earth’s resources?

  • Currently, humankind is using 170% of the world’s natural output.
  • That means we are using up the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.
  • As per Global Footprint Network , we’re on track to be using two Earths by the end of the 21st Century.
  • In 1963, we used 78% of the Earth’s biocapacity. However by the early 1970s we began to consume more energy than the planet could produce. By 10 years ago, we were using 144% of the Earth’s biocapacity.

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