Oct 9, 2006

[Earth News] Ecological Debt Day

BBC News: Graph showing nation's ecological footprintsToday, October 9, 2006, has been announced to be this year's World Ecological Debt Day. What this is supposed to mean is that this is the day of the year that our demands as a global population exceed the planet's ability to produce resources and absorb waste. Pretty strong statement, huh?

The declaration is based on a study done yearly by the Global Footprint Network, a US-based think tank that has been conducting this research based on footprint information since 1961. They use a unit of measure roughly equivalent to the productive output of the planet as a whole, thus "number of planets" when you get right down to it.

Global Footprint Network: Demand vs Biocapacity Graph

In the graph above, this shows that as a planet we've moved from using about half of the equivalent resources of the world in 1961 all the way to using 1.2 time the biocapacity of the planet in 2002, a pretty scary number since we're not going to be able to "borrow" resources from anywhere else anytime soon. Thus, we're stuck with our debt unless we figure out what to do.

The World Ecological Debt Day has been steadily moving earlier and earlier over the years starting with it being on the 19th of December in 1987 to the 1st of November in the year 2000 and this year with it at the 9th of October. The group's site also includes national footprints for limited countries, namely China, France, India, North and South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands and the Philippines, surprisingly enough.

You may have already encountered the organiztion if you've ever taken the Ecological Footprint Quiz created back in 2002, which is still active today. It turns out that I use up the equivalent of over 2 Earths primarily because of my food and shelter related resource consumption. Geez.

It certainly gives you something to think about.

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