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Choosing between stability and collapse

· Annual natural resources already consumed ·

This year’s Earth Overshoot Day, the day in which humanity runs out of the year’s worth of natural resources, is occurring five days earlier than last year. This means that what we consume tomorrow will exceed the resources that the planet can regenerate. This unstoppable rush was calculated by the Global Footprint Network, which every year measures the consumption of available resources, stressing that in 2000 the deadline fell in late September.

It is indeed the certification that we are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the oceans and forests are able to absorb and despoiling fishing grounds and forests faster than they can replenish themselves. Carbon emissions are the component of ecological overexploitation that is growing most quickly: the mark left by carbon (carbon footprint) generates 60 percent of mankind’s demand (ecological footprint) for natural resources.

In keeping with the goals of the Paris Agreement, adopted by almost 200 countries in December 2015, the carbon footprint should gradually decline to almost zero by 2050. According to Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network, this demands a new way of life, which is challenging but not impossible. “The good news”, he notes, “is that everything is feasible with available technology and is cost effective because the overall benefits outweigh the costs. The only resource that we need more of is political willpower”.

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