Earth’s Resources Consumed at Exorbitant Level
With the world’s population surpassing seven billion – and still growing exponentially, the demand and consumption of natural resources have also been increasing drastically. This does not bode well for earth’s finite resources.
Earth Overshoot Day – the day that marks the point where yearly consumption exceeds nature’s capacity to regenerate – fell on July 29 last year, the earliest date ever recorded since Earth Overshoot Day started 50 years ago.
In 2018, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 1; the year before that it was on August 2 and in 2016 it was on August 8. The date for 2020 has yet to be announced, but if the trend continues, we can expect Earth Overshoot Day to fall in late July or August.
In fact, at this point, we would need 1.75 earths to meet our insatiable demand for its resources.
Even though we still have the means to support our consumption habits today, many resources will run out sooner or later. Fossil fuel, for one, will run out by 2060 if the burning rate continues at the same rate. Furthermore, to date, there are no substitutes for critical minerals like aluminium, metals, and rare earth elements.
Over-consumption can also be detrimental as it could cause, among others:
- Deforestation – Up to 15 billion trees are being cut down every year. The loss of trees can cause soil erosion, loss of crops, and flooding, and affect water quality. As more than half of land-based plants and animals live in the forest, loss of biodiversity is also a great consequence.
- Oceanic dead zones – This refers to areas in the open ocean and coasts with reduced or no oxygen due to excess nutrients from fertilisers, wastewater, and burning of fossil fuels polluting the water. These stimulate the overgrowth of algae, which consume the oxygen needed for marine life to survive. Scientists have warned that these zones have multiplied in size since 1950 and will lead to the mass extinction of sea creatures while also producing a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.
While these threats need to be tackled by policymakers and governments, society can also play an important role in changing our behaviours as consumers. Choosing not to buy a second car, eating less meat, or buying clothes made from recycled textiles, for example, are all conscious decisions that we can make to reduce our impact on the world.
The importance of environmental awareness and educating the public about having a sustainable lifestyle cannot be undermined.
The #MYEarth campaign was conceived to empower individuals to take ownership of our one and only home, and take action by taking small incremental steps to save the environment. The campaign aims to:
- Create environmental awareness through its website and social media – regularly dispensing tips and information to encourage individuals to take action.
- Promote sustainable lifestyles by offering suggestions on how to reduce our carbon footprints.
- Encourage eco-friendly activities, particularly among our younger generations, in collaboration with schools and higher learning institutions.