Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Here! Earth Overshoot Day has Arrived.

Nothing to celebrate, actually.   Today is estimated to be the day on which mankind has consumed the entire stocks of renewable resources our planet will generate this year.   Today is Earth Overshoot Day.

As the graph shows, we're en route to gobbling up 35 per cent more renewables than get renewed this year.   How do we manage that?  Easy.   Some aspects of it, things such as spreading deforestation and desertification, are visible to the naked eye from the International Space Station.   Other aspects are discernible in other ways.   For example, the collapse in global fisheries which has fishing fleets maintaining production only by continuously "fishing down the food chain," going after the next most desirable fish as the more desirable species are fished to commercial extinction.  Perhaps most disturbing is the emptying of our ancient aquifers, drawing many times their natural replenishment or recharge rate in order to feed our demands for agricultural irrigation and our slightly insane desire to build megacities in the middle of deserts.

The best image I can come up with for our predicament is that of a guy who has just run headfirst into a wall.  The guy shakes off the impact, backs up and runs headlong into the wall again - and again, and again, and again.   He just keeps doing it until he kills himself.

Overshoot is such an existential problem that it never so much as crosses the lips of any of our political leaders - any of them.   Overshoot is one of those things they don't dare talk about because, like many other problems, it reveals that our society is based on models - economic, industrial, social, political - that have outlived their utility and turned dysfunctional.   Overshoot is us turning on ourselves and nothing less.

1 comment:

Anyong said...

The word sustainibility certainly doesn't enter into the equation does it? It is very tiring to continually hear how the tar sands will provide Canada with many, many years of oil. What? Who? Really? To whom is Canada providing this oil? There is another fact that is becoming boring to hear. Aww yes, but the companies who are in this tar sands business are such good people. They are returning the environment to what it was before extraction. How so? It takes 100 years for one tree in the Boreal Forest to reach maturity and one sweep to distroy it.