Yesterday, 20th August 2013, was Earth Overshoot Day, also known as Ecological Debt Day, the approximate point in the year when humanity’s resource use for the year exceeded the Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources.
The date is an approximation but it has been moving steadily forward in the calendar since the phenomenon was first identified in the mid-1970s.
The financial analogy employed by many commentators is an apt one, particularly given the state of the gobal economy, even though world leaders are directing infinitely more time and resources at that than they are at the more pressing environmental credit crunch. Just as individuals and families were able to happily carry on increasing their consumption during the boom years, fuelled by a plentiful supply of readily available credit, so the economies of the developed world have continued to grow at an ever-inceasing rate, thanks to the ready availability of resources whose full cost we never stopped to calculate, let alone consider paying.
Eventually, however, the debt must be repaid and with interest.. The choice that we face is whether we will tighten our belts and find ways to live within our means or carry on regardless until the day that the bank, or the planet, calls in the loan.
Unfortunately, the UK’s government’s enthusiasm for technologies such as fracking to unlock the supposed shale gas boom, suggests that the lure of a short-term fix of shiny new stuff may onceagain triumph over sober restraint and delayed gratification.