The United States Congress has decided that we must stop our practice of deficit spending, creating debts so huge that we in essence bankrupt ourselves. Meanwhile we fall further and further into ecological debt.
[ world biocapacity / world Ecological Footprint ] x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
Essentially we have been “overshooting” since the 1970’s but our ever increasing population, deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and further rapid use of the resources around us are causing us to go through a years worth of resources more quickly. It is estimated that by the end of December we will have used 135 percent of the earth’s resources this year.
Ecological overshoot occurs when human demand exceeds the regenerative capacity of a natural ecosystem. Global overshoot occurs when humanity demands more resources and produces more waste, such as CO2, than the biosphere can regenerate and reabsorb.
This year we will have used the resources of between 1.3 and 1.5 planets to sustain ourselves. If we keep going as we are by 2030 we will need resources equivalent to two planets to sustain ourselves. Although astronomers announced the discovery of “more than 50 new exoplanets, including 16 super-Earths” this doesn’t mean that any of the newly found “super-Earths” actually is habitable much less that we could get to any of them by 2030. We only have this one planet to sustain us so we need to start paying attention to our ecological debt.
So what does this actually mean? It means that we will see more severe droughts, shrinking forests, greater extinction of species, severe water shortages from water overuse, more crop failures, and eventually wars breaking out over scarce resources.
Back in 2001, The Why Files published a piece on Where’s the Water? The piece described growing water shortages around the world. It also talked about disappearing aquifers, and “private for profit water sales”. In 2008 Natural News reported that 36 states in the U.S. would experience water shortages within the next five years.
Available freshwater supplies are dwindling across the country due to rising temperatures and droughts, while increasing sprawl, population and inefficient resource usage are leading to rising demand.
According to the most recent Drought Monitor Map of the United States, exceptional drought conditions exist in most of Texas and Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Other parts of Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma are in drought conditions that range from abnormally dry to extreme. Extreme drought conditions exist in Georgia, parts of Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado.
South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas have major drought conditions that include abnormally dry, to moderate and severe drought conditions. California, Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Florida, New York, Nevada, and Utah have abnormally dry conditions in parts of their states. That is over half of the United States that is suffering from some sort of water shortage in late September 2011.
That is simply looking at water resources in the United States. Other parts of the world like Sudan, suffer ongoing water shortages as well. The three year drought in the Sudan and Somalia has led to ongoing wars. So far the water wars in the United States are confined to the courts.
The same people who are screaming over our federal debt are blocking any attempts to deal with our ecological problems. In essence ignoring that it even exists. Unfortunately, ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It only means a greater disaster is looming.
Graphic from the Global Footprint Network