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Humans have used up the planet’s natural resources for the year. Here’s what Earth Overshoot Day means

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By Natasha O’Neill, CTVNews.ca Writer

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    Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) — Humans have already used up Earth’s natural resources for the year at a pace faster than the planet can regenerate them, a natural resources research organization says.

On August 2, 2023, the world marked Earth Overshoot Day, which signals the depletion of the planet’s ecological resources for the year.

Every day from today to the end of 2023, humans will carry a debt by continuing to take from nature and accumulating waste like carbon dioxide, according to data in a report from research organization the Global Footprint Network.

The demand we put on the environment has outpaced how the environment can regenerate those resources; like wood, water and plants.

The Global Footprint Network has marked Earth Overshoot Day each year since 1971.

“During the pandemic when we weren’t using quite as many resources, we actually did better, but now we’re back to where we started,” Eric Miller, director of the Ecological Footprint Initiative in York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, said in a news release.

At the height of the pandemic, in 2020, the planet hit Earth Overshoot Day on Aug. 16, the latest it hit that milestone since 2009.

Miller said Earth Overshoot Day is like a bank account: one that humans have “once again” overdrawn. Instead of money, it is natural resources that humanity has used up.

“Seven months into the year and the account is empty,” he said.

The Global Footprint Network calculates the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year) and divides it by humanity’s ecological footprint. Multiplying that number by 365 gives that year’s Earth Overshoot Day.

The earliest humanity depleted Earth’s resources for the year was Aug. 1, in 2018 and again in 2022, the Global Footprint Network says.

When researchers started calculating, the first Earth Overshoot Day was measured on Dec. 25, 1971, marking only a week where humans outpaced the environment.

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