As of today, 29 July, human beings have consumed more renewable natural resources than the Earth will produce this year. These natural resources have been consumed in less than seven months, although they should last for the whole year, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment explained in a press release.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when, according to calculations, people’s consumption exceeds the Earth’s biocapacity, or the capacity to generate renewable resources and process the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
At the current rate of consumption, humanity would need 1.75 Earths to support its demand on the ecosystem. Earth Overshoot Day is determined based on the calculations of the Global Footprint Network. Finland is already well past its country overshoot day for this year, which was 5 April.
A cause of climate change
Overconsumption is one of the most significant causes of climate change and dwindling biodiversity. It compromises the availability of food, clean water and raw materials. The consequences can already be seen today: the global climate is already around one degree warmer than in preindustrial times, and about one million of the world’s plant and animal species are in danger of extinction.
“We must take quick action to reduce our consumption of natural resources. The Earth cannot support our overconsumption, which is a major cause of biodiversity loss and the progression of climate change,” said Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Circular economy offers solutions
At the global level, humans currently consume around 80 billion tonnes of raw materials per year, of which just nine per cent is reused or recycled. Consumption is expected to double by 2060.
The circular economy aims to increase the lifespan of products and to advance the use of services and solutions that decrease the overuse of natural resources. The goods used must also be serviceable, reparable and recyclable.
“Circular economy solutions present an opportunity for us to reuse the natural resources we have already used, produce less waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Promoting the circular economy is one of the main priorities of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, during which time we aim to produce a new EU circular economy strategy,” Minister Mikkonen says.