Today’s the Day We Overdraw Our Accounts

"You say there's nothing left?" Punch, 1917. Courtesy Project Gutenberg.


Thanks to Deborah Byrd blogging at EarthSky for the heads-up that today is Earth Overshoot Day. The day when we overdraw our ecological bank account.

This year it falls on 25 September. Starting today, we’re utilizing resources at a rate faster than what the planet can regenerate in a calendar year.

Which means for the next 97 days, we’re using up our capital investment. You know, the air, waters, oceans, forests, species, topsoil that keep us alive. The problem’s called ecological overshoot.

We first went into overshoot in 1986, according to the Global Footprint Network. Before then we consumed resources and produced carbon dioxide at a rate consistent with what the planet could produce and reabsorb in a year. By 1996 we were using 15 percent more resources in a year than the planet could supply. Earth Overshoot Day fell in November that year.

Now we’re now stripping resources 40 percent faster than the planet can produce them.

‘Course a thrifty Homo sapiens would batten down the hatches, tighten the belt, and shift to extreme emergency savings mode. Unless he or she didn’t really feel overdrawn? Like everything was still super affordable and super expendable and super infinite?
 

Fact:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.