Humanity has consumed everything the planet can produce in a year without running out

On Thursday, humanity will have consumed all that the planet can produce in a year without running out and it will live the rest of the year on credit, warned the NGOs Global Footprint Network and WWF.

Humanity has consumed everything the planet can produce in a year without running out

On Thursday, humanity will have consumed all that the planet can produce in a year without running out and it will live the rest of the year on credit, warned the NGOs Global Footprint Network and WWF.

To put it figuratively, it would take 1.75 Earths to support the world's population in a sustainable way, according to this indicator created by researchers in the early 1990s, and which continues to worsen.

This date corresponds to when "humanity has consumed all that ecosystems can regenerate in one year", according to the two NGOs.

"During the remaining 156 days (until the end of the year), our consumption of renewable resources will consist of eating away at the planet's natural capital," said Laetitia Mailhes of Global Footprint Network during a conference in hurry.

This does not even take into account the needs of other species living on Earth. “You also have to leave space for the wild world,” she adds.

“Overshoot” occurs when human pressure exceeds the regenerative capacities of natural ecosystems. According to the NGO Global Footprint Network, which monitors this measurement, it has continued to widen for 50 years: December 29 in 1970, November 4 in 1980, October 11 in 1990, September 23 in 2000, August 7 in 2010.

In 2020, this date had been postponed by three weeks under the effect of the confinements linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, before returning to the levels before.

Food system gone crazy

This ecological footprint is calculated from six different categories, "crops, pastures, forest areas necessary for forest products, fishing areas, built-up areas and forest areas necessary to absorb the carbon emitted by the combustion of 'fossil fuels' and is intimately linked to consumption patterns, particularly in rich countries.

For example, if all humans lived like the French, Earth Overshoot Day would have occurred even earlier, on May 5, 2022.

WWF and Global Footprint Network point the finger in particular at our food system.

"Our food system has lost its mind with an overconsumption of natural resources, without meeting the needs of the fight against poverty" on the one hand, and on the other an epidemic of overweight and obesity, comments Pierre Cannet, from WWF France.

"The ecological footprint of food is considerable: the production of food mobilizes all the categories of footprint, in particular crops (necessary for animal and human food) and carbon (agriculture is a sector with high emissions greenhouse gases)", detail the two NGOs.

"In total, more than half of the planet's biocapacity (55%) is used to feed humanity," they note.

More specifically, “a large part of the foodstuffs and raw materials are used to feed the animals and animals that we consume afterwards”, specifies Pierre Cannet. In the case of the European Union, "63% of arable land (...) is directly associated with animal production", he gives as an example.

However, agriculture contributes to deforestation, climate change by emitting greenhouse gases, the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems, while using a large part of fresh water, say the NGOs.

Based on scientific recommendations, they plead for a reduction in meat consumption in rich countries.

“If we could reduce meat consumption by half, we could push back the date of the day of the overrun by 17 days”, argues Laetitia Mailhes.

"Limiting food waste would make it possible to push back the date by 13 days, that's not negligible", she adds, while a third of the food is wasted in the world.

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