Humanity Exceeded Earth’s Capacity In The 70’s

A new report states human demand on the Earth’s resources bypassed the planet’s regenerative capacity decades ago.

The report from WWF, which has a focus on China, says the ecological footprint of each person on the planet in 2008 averaged 2.7 global hectares (gha), exceeding the available per capita biocapacity of 1.8 gha by half.

Note the “average” – the reality is a minority are taking the majority of the resources. China’s per capita ecological footprint is still far below ours – for now.

Simply put, we’re taking more from the planet than it can replace – and at a staggering rate. We’re chewing through Planet Earth’s “savings” so to speak faster than it can deposit back into its account – a situation it won’t tolerate forever as Nature abhors imbalance.

I’ve mentioned a similar concept called Earth Overshoot Day in the past. This is the day each year when we begin going into “ecological debt” for the year by consuming resources faster than our planet can regenerate in that calendar year.

Back in 1992, Earth Overshoot Day was on October 21. When I first mentioned it in 2008, Earth Overshoot Day that year was September 23. So after 16 years it arrived just under a month earlier.

This year it was August 22 – what took 16 years prior has only taken 4 years now.

Our population isn’t getting any smaller and as nations seek to “improve” their standard of living (in other words, to engage in hyper-consumption like us), expect Earth Overshoot Day to arrive increasingly earlier each year. Waiting for a magical solution will only speed up its arrival and blaming the situation on China will not do any good. They didn’t start the fire.

It’s incredibly sobering to think that everyone born since the 70’s has spent their entire lives in a world that really cannot support them under a business as usual scenario.

Even with any progress we are making, this generation is going to have some incredibly tough choices to make if we don’t totally get our act together soon; and it appears it will be unlikely we will.

The burger or the babies – what’s it going to be?


Soylent green anyone?


Ultimate greening