With current consumption and population rates, humanity needs two Earths
Carbon emissions now account for up to 60 percent of humanity's demand on nature. (Shutterstock)
As of today, humanity has used up all the Earth's resources for the year! According to the international research organization Global Footprint Network (GFN), August 8 marks the date when the world's seven billion people annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate during the entire year.
This means we have reached the point of consuming 1.6 planet Earths per year. The reason is overpopulation, but especially because we emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than our oceans and forests can absorb, and we deplete fisheries and harvest forests more quickly than they can reproduce and regrow.
From now until December 31, all natural water resources, wood, fisheries, food crops, even livestock will be provided from Earth's reserves. Humanity has been living on credit for the past 46 years, but the overshoot day is coming earlier every year.
In 1970, the day all natural resources finished was calculated on December 23. In 1980 it was November 3, in 1990 it was October 13, in 2000 it was October 4 and in 2015 it was August 13.
Carbon emissions are the fastest growing contributor to ecological overshoot, now making up to 60 percent of humanity's demand on nature.
If we adhere to the goals set by the Paris climate agreement adopted by nearly 200 countries in December 2015, the carbon footprint will need to gradually fall to zero by 2050. This calls for a new, eco-conscious way of living.
"The good news is that it is possible with current technology and financially advantageous with overall benefits exceeding costs. It will stimulate emerging sectors like renewable energy, while reducing risks and costs associated with the impact of climate change on inadequate infrastructure. The only resource we still need more of is political will," said Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and CEO of GFN.
If "business as usual" continues, the impacts of climate change in the Middle East are as drastic as elsewhere in the world. The planet has already warmed by an average of one degree Celsius since the middle of the 20th century.
As temperatures rise and climate impacts become more evident, the UAE is predicted to experience hotter and more humid summers, extreme weather events such as storm surges are predicted to increase and precipitation patterns are expected to change across the Arabian Gulf as is seawater salinity.
"Increase in average temperatures will lead to increased power demand for cooling. Sea-level rise, closely related to rising global temperatures and extreme events, will pose risks for infrastructure as well as inhabitants and economic activities. Changing land and sea surface temperatures will impact terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Agriculture outputs the world over are predicted to be impacted, bringing unprecedented policy challenges for large food importers such as the UAE," Mitta added.
By Silvia Radan
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