• Reading Level 5
Science | Geography | PSHE

Earth uses a year of resources in seven months

How can we push back Earth Overshoot Day? As of today, humans have used more resources in 2018 than the Earth can renew in a year. Environmental disaster looms if the trend is not reversed. It took just 212 days. A whole year's worth of food, carbon, water, fibre, land and timber, devoured by a human race insatiably consuming the Earth's resources. According to a new studyThe study conducted two tests on 50 students. At the beginning of the experiment, half were given a cup of tea, and half a glass of water. The groups were then given creative challenges, like coming up with a "cool" name for a noodle restaurant., August 1 marks Earth Overshoot Day - the day when humans have used all the resources the Earth is able to replenish in a year. We would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to maintain the current level of consumption, with deforestation, intensive farming, fossil-fuel burning, mining and overfishing demanding more than the planet can sustainably produce. What's more, 2018 is the quickest we have ever reached the mark. In 1970, Earth Overshoot Day was declared on December 29; since then it has steadily crept forward. Next year could see the planet's resource budget busted as early as July. If this trend continues, the consequences could be disastrous. "We are borrowing the Earth's future resources to operate our economies in the present," explains Mathis Wackernagel. "This works for some time. But as nations, companies, or households dig themselves deeper and deeper into debt, they eventually fall apart." However, we have the power to change things. Research shows that replacing 50% of meat consumption with a vegetarian diet would push the overshoot day back by five days. And if humanity cut its carbon emissionsWhen a gas is let off from something, like a car, it is an emission. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. by half the date would be pushed back by three months. The biggest changes would need to come from the most developed countries, in which people enjoy high-consumption lifestyles. For example, if everyone consumed as much as the average American, humanity would need five Earths. Whether the international effort required will actually happen remains to be seen. Last year, President Donald Trump sensationally withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. What's more, as large nations like India and China grow more prosperous, demands on the Earth's resources are likely to increase. How can we push back Earth Overshoot Day? In the red Governments must take the lead, some argue. The biggest impact will come from rich nations enforcing carbon-reducing legislation - whether through taxes, regulations or subsidiesMoney given by the state or another body to help keep prices low. . Where possible, developing nations must grow in sustainable ways too. Finally, all this must be accompanied by investment in research and renewable energy to help scientists develop green technologies. We all have a role to play, others respond. Politicians will only act if they feel pressure to do so. Anyone who cares about the planet must make the environmental message heard. What's more, from reducing meat consumption to using eco-friendly transportation, there are ways we can all reduce our own ecological footprints. KeywordsStudy - The study conducted two tests on 50 students. At the beginning of the experiment, half were given a cup of tea, and half a glass of water. The groups were then given creative challenges, like coming up with a "cool" name for a noodle restaurant.

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