At this rate, we’d need two earths!
Abu Dhabi - This means we have reached the point of consuming 1.6 planet Earths per year.
Published: Mon 8 Aug 2016, 12:00 AM
Last updated: Thu 11 Aug 2016, 3:25 PM
As of today, the humanity has used up all the Earth's resources for the year! According to the international research organisation Global Footprint Network (GFN), August 8 marks the date when the world's seven billion people annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate during the entire year.
This means we have reached the point of consuming 1.6 planet Earths per year. The reason is overpopulation, but especially because we emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than our oceans and forests can absorb, and we deplete fisheries and harvest forests more quickly than they can reproduce and regrow.
From now until December 31, all natural water resources, wood, fisheries, food crops, even livestock will be provided from Earth's reserves. Humanity has been living on credit for the past 46 years, but the overshoot day is coming earlier every year.
In 1970, the day all natural resources finished was calculated on December 23. In 1980 it was November 3, in 1990 it was October 13, in 2000 it was October 4 and in 2015 it was August 13.
Carbon emissions are the fastest growing contributor to ecological overshoot, now making up to 60 per cent of humanity's demand on nature.
If we adhere to the goals set by the Paris climate agreement adopted by nearly 200 countries in December 2015, the carbon footprint will need to gradually fall to zero by 2050. This calls for a new, eco-conscious way of living.
"The good news is that it is possible with current technology and financially advantageous with overall benefits exceeding costs. It will stimulate emerging sectors like renewable energy, while reducing risks and costs associated with the impact of climate change on inadequate infrastructure. The only resource we still need more of is political will," said Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and CEO of GFN.
How UAE battles emission
Back in 2006, the GFN reported that UAE has the world's highest ecological footprint, which prompted the country's authorities to take immediate measures to reduce it.
According to Deepti Mahajan Mittal, project manager of Footprint, Climate and Energy at Worldwide Fund for Nature-Emirates Wildlife Society(EWS), the UAE has since reduces its ecological footprint, but this is still high per capita and carbon forms the majority of the country's footprint.
Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion are the most important contributor to emissions.
"The country has set itself a clean energy target of 24 per cent share in the energy mix by 2021, but there needs to be increased ambition on renewable energy, particularly solar which has immense potential in the UAE," Mittal told Khaleej Times.
"We should continue to adopt and strictly implement energy efficiency standards for electrical appliances and efficiency codes for buildings. Electricity and water utilities need to make further efforts to change consumer behaviour through education and appropriate price signals."
"The UAE is amongst the fastest growing vehicle markets in the world and it is pertinent to increase the efficiency of the vehicle fleet through a fuel economy standard for light-duty vehicles and intake of more electric vehicles," added Mittal.
EWS, as well as GFN, is already working with the government on giving shape to a range of such policy tools.
If "business as usual" continues, the impacts of climate change in the UAE are as drastic as elsewhere in the world. The planet has already warmed by an average of one degree Celsius since the middle of the 20th century.
As temperatures rise and climate impacts become more evident, the UAE is predicted to experience hotter and more humid summers, extreme weather events such as storm surges are predicted to increase and precipitation patterns are expected to change across the Arabian Gulf as is seawater salinity.
"Increase in average temperatures will lead to increased power demand for cooling. Sea-level rise, closely related to rising global temperatures and extreme events, will pose risks for infrastructure as well as inhabitants and economic activities. Changing land and sea surface temperatures will impact terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Agriculture outputs the world over are predicted to be impacted, bringing unprecedented policy challenges for large food importers such as the UAE," Mittal added.