Earth Overshoot Day 2016 is on August 8
Our ecological footprint is how much we demand from nature. Currently, humanity is using the equivalent of 1.6 planets. Every year, Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day. It marks the date when humanity's demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. In 2000, Earth Overshoot Day fell in late September and in 2016 it falls on August 8th.
You can think about this as a bank account: for the first seven months and eight days in we lived on a regular salary, after that we started chipping into our savings or racking up credit cards debt.
Our ecological footprint measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we use things like food, land for settlements, timber, seafood, and to absorb the waste and carbon dioxide we generate.
Our capacity is the amount of biologically productive areas such as forests, fishing grounds crop and grazing areas, that are available to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. We can compare footprint and biocapacity to see if we are well balanced or not.
So, why do we care about humanity's ecological footprint? The costs of ecological overspending are evident every day in the form of deforestation, drought, biodiversity loss, and the build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Ecological overspending also can put nations at more risk: without sufficient resources it is hard to operate an economy or we have to import more which has costs as well.
Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use are a big part of today's footprint.
Today, humanity's carbon footprint makes up 60% of the world's total ecological footprint. But there is good news: in December 2015, nearly 200 nations committed to reducing carbon emissions as part of the Paris climate agreement.
In addition to nations taking action, each one of us has the power to help reverse the trend of overshooting our planet's resources.
Did you know that it takes 14 times as much biologically productive land to produce one ton of beef as it takes to produce one ton of grain?
Put bluntly, reducing meat consumption is one of many ways to reduce our ecological footprint. One of the pledges you can make is to host a vegetarian dinner party and share a picture of the feast. You can also pledge to lower your household energy consumption, become a natural resource expert, telecommute or take alternative transportation, illustrate your commitment to tread lightly on the earth and reduce your paper waste.