Coronavirus bought the planet a month... it's the result of a study into the availability of Earth's resources. Since 2003, the Global Footprint Network –an international research centre founded by Swiss environmentalist Mathis Accourage– has been doing an annual assessment of the resources we consume during the calendar year, compared to what the planet can actually provide. The study takes into account various factors and covers both human exploitation and the Earth's ability to reabsorb and process the waste generated by our impact on ecosystems. The result is a sort of limit or point of equilibrium between what is available and what is used up. The day when we exceed this limit is called Earth Overshoot Day and this year, according to GFN researchers, it fell on 22 August.
We used to call it Ecological Debt Day, a watershed moment between the natural resources available on Earth and those consumed by humankind. Past that point, the planet can no longer support the demands we place on it to live, eat, produce energy and absorb the polluting gases that we produce. After that, the resources we use are in debt, meaning they are not available in future. In other words, what Earth’s ecosystems can produce, absorb and regenerate in a year is insufficient to meet our needs. The Global Footprint Network finds where the balance lies between resource supply and demand: anything beyond that is going to result in depletion. It is almost as if every year, after a certain amount of time, we go overdrawn on an imaginary current account and don’t pay anything more in.