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Loan – Giovanni De Mauro

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Loan – Giovanni De Mauro

This year we got there on July 28, one day before 2021. The Earth overshoot day, which in Italian can be translated as “the day of the overexploitation of the Earth”, indicates the date on which humanity consumed all the resources that ecosystems can regenerate in a year.

In 1971 it was December 25th, and we’ve gotten there a little earlier every year since. With few exceptions: the years of the energy (1974, 1980), financial (2008) and health (2020) crises. After this day, the world lives in deficit and therefore beyond its means. Today 1.75 Earths would be needed to satisfy the consumption of the world population in a sustainable way.

The ecological debt varies from one country to another. If everyone lived like the Italians, Earth overshoot day would have been reached on May 15, two months earlier with the Americans and June 2 with the Chinese. The Earth overshoot day is calculated by the US non-profit association Global footprint network by dividing the biocapacity of the Earth by the ecological footprint of humanity and multiplying the result by 365 days.

This is obviously a simplification that aggregates thousands of statistical indicators by translating them into a common unit of measurement. There is therefore some approximation, some indicators are ignored and it is very anthropocentric, that is, it is based on the idea that all natural resources are destined for the survival of human beings. Despite these objections, Earth overshoot day reminds us of the finiteness of the planet we live on.

As the president of the Global footprint network, Mathis Wackernagel said, commenting on this year’s data, “it is as if a person has spent all his money on July 28 and the rest of the year is living in debt. Indeed it is even more serious, because the money can always be printed or borrowed. Resources, on the other hand, we can only borrow from the future ”. ◆

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