July 29 marked 2019 Earth Overshoot Day, which means humans have already used up the planet’s ecological resource budget for the entire year. It is the earliest the date has ever come, according to independent think tank Global Footprint Network (GFN), which tracks the metric. This means the world is using up resources 1.75 times faster than the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate them, which is akin to using 1.75 Earths. “It is an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt—food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere—comes with devastating human and monetary costs,” GFN said. To help move Earth Overshoot Day further back, the network is encouraging people to take individual actions such as committing to a plant-based diet. “Replacing 50 percent of meat consumption with vegetarian food would move the date of Overshoot Day 15 days (10 days for the reduction of methane emissions from livestock alone),” GFN said. Moving the date of Earth Overshoot Day back five days each year would allow humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. Swedish vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg called attention to the early Earth Overshoot Day on Twitter: “[This is] a day that sadly happens earlier and earlier each year. That means that today we’ve globally used up the world’s annual resources. The rest of the year we are stealing from future generations and poorer parts of the world.”
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