Global overshoot day

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At the end of October it will be more than two months that our planet is going through a loss phase. In fact, the non-governmental organization Global Footprint Network estimates that August 22nd is  the day when the resources that have been consumed since January 1st 2012 have been  equal to the natural resources that will be produced, worldwide, throughout the current year. So, August 22nd has been the Global Overshoot Day 2012 (GOD), what might be defined as the day of balance between what the Earth can annually generate and the ecological footprint of its inhabitants (i.e. all of us), or what they have consumed in terms of resources and services. Inevitably, for the rest of the year resources should be eaten away. From the ‘70s of the last century the balance day isn’t in conjunction with the end of December. But it had never dropped so low and, moreover, at a single stroke. In 2011 the GOD was achieved on September 27th , over a month later. To record a jump of one month, compared to 2011, we need to go 15 years back, to October 1997. So, from nearly half a century, we are taking from the natural systems more resources than are able to be regenerated and, at the same time, we input more waste and pollutions than the Planet is able to metabolize. Consequences are clear for all of us: climate change due to global warming is now an indisputable fact. Desertification and glaciers melting are unstoppable. In the Alps many glaciers are now reduced to mere snowfields, not to mention muddy marshes. Lester Brown, President at Earth Policy Institute in Washington and founder of Worldwatch Institute, points out that precisely the continuous increase in food prices is a clear demonstration of our irrational and excessive consumption of resources. In fact, it is inevitable for every initiative directed to goods or services production, to imply the consumption of certain resources and, equally inevitable, consumption implies a loss so that it becomes impossible to achieve other objectives, goods or services, whatever, with the same resources. Since the consumption of resources represents the initiative cost, it is calculated by monetizing the loss value of the same resources. When the demand for these increases exponentially, as in this current historical period, their value also increases. Therefore, worldwide soaring prices of foodstuff should not be surprising. For specialists from around the world there is no more time for proclamations nor for good intentions, but it’s time to act and to reduce waste, water waste first of all, perhaps the most serious problem of all because the life of the entire Planet depends from its solution, in addition with CO2 emissions which account for over 50% of the global ecological footprint. It is appropriate and necessary for companies to learn measuring their environmental consumption because it is inevitable that each one of us will be soon invited to pay for the resources he consumes. The carbon footprint, for example, is just around the corner. Moreover, compromises and half-measures don’t work in these situations and drastic restructuring of production systems (use of renewable energy and green packaging, efficient water use, waste reduction) is inevitable to affect in a very significant way the ecological footprint reduction that each one of us leaves behind, so reversing the current trend, which is essential for a sustainable growth and is the only way to save the future and reserve development and competitiveness to companies.

by Dante Marco De Faveri

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