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eco-gluttons World poised to exhaust renewable resources for 2018

Tractor ploughing a field

A farm in the US, a country that overshot its limit back in March.

(Associated Press)

Wednesday is Earth Overshoot Day 2018, the point at which humanity has used more resources than the planet can naturally reproduce in a year. Switzerland overshot its mark back in May.

While Swiss citizens enjoy their picnics, barbecues and (for some) lakeside fireworks on August 1, Swiss National Day, the Earth will pass the mark at which it begins to live off nature’s credit, said the Global Footprint Networkexternal link think tank on Tuesday.

The date, which shows at which point the global population has consumed more resources than nature can regenerate in one year, has been creeping steadily backwards: in 1970 it fell in December and by 2000 had regressed to September.

Through overfishing, overharvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere can absorb, humanity is acting “as if it had 1.7 earths available”, the network said.

As for Switzerland, it is operating as if it had three planets at its disposal: it passed its country overshoot day on May 7, in the same week as Germany, France and the UK.

The fastest user of finite resources, according to the network’s map, is Qatar, which passed the mark on February 9; at the other end of the scale, Vietnam lives without natural debt until a couple of days before Christmas.

Can the Swiss, while they celebrate their country’s national holiday, do anything to improve the situation?

The WWF Switzerlandexternal link, an environmental advocacy group, has some advice: take a picnic close to home, leave the car in the garage and stick to vegetables and less dairy where possible. And if the meat-eaters won’t give in, the best sausage to be had is the cervelat, they say, which contains less “valuable” meat than others.

SDA-ATS/dos

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