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I opened up my e-mail this morning to find a sobering message from a classmate. The e-mail was about Earth Overshoot Day – the day when our consumption of resources has reached the earth’s capacity for this year. According to Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day gets earlier and earlier each year. In 1993, we reached this day on October 21, in 2003 it was September 22, and now in 2013 it is August 20. It is not acceptable for a business to overshoot their financial budget when there is still 1/3 of the year remaining. It is not acceptable for us to use up the ecological budget either. The Global Footprint Network states that we are incurring “an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt—food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO in our atmosphere—comes with devastating human and monetary costs.” What happens when we spend all of the money in our budget? We have to conserve and dip into our savings. If we are dipping into our ecological savings earlier and earlier each year, our behavior is not sustainable.

Click here to watch a short video about Ecological Overshoot.

Click here to calculate your personal ecological footprint.

            I am “celebrating” Earth Overshoot Day by contemplating not only how I can consume less, but also how I can add ecological capital back into the account. For example, I could plant some trees to help capture excess carbon dioxide. What if we could slowly raise awareness, change behavior, and push back Earth Overshoot Day?