World energy needs exceed supplies

August 21, 2013

Yesterday (August 20th) marked the estimated moment where Earth's annual demand for resources exceeds what can possibly be renewed in a year. 

The Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank based in California, Europe and Japan, named August 20th as Earth Overshoot Day, with the world using more energy in just eight months than nature can replenish in a year. 

According to research from the Global Footprint Network, humanity is now using ecological resources and services at a rate it would take just over 1.5 Earths to renew.

Different countries require different amounts of energy and resources, however. The think tank revealed that China has a far smaller per capita 'footprint' than countries in Europe and North America. If everyone lived how residents in the China do, there would only be the need for 1.2 Earths to renew supplies. 

If this were changed to the United States, the world would need four Earths to handle demand. In Qatar, a typical resident currently requires a staggering six Earths to supply resource demand. 

Furthermore, the Network has suggested that we could reach a global need for two Earths to supply demand well before 2050. 

"While the global recession that began in October 2008 slowed humanity's demand for resources, our consumption continues to rise," the think tanks statement said. 

"To avoid economic hardship, resource limits must be at the core of decision-making. Current resource trends already cannot meet the needs of the planet's 7 billion – and growing – population. About two billion people lack access to the resources required to meet their basic needs."

This should see national governments shift their focus towards renewable systems, with solar panels just one of the many methods to achieve clean, sustainable energy on a large scale. 

While energy supplies is not the single contributing factor to a depletion of Earth's resources, a reduction in fossil fuels will help to cut the worldwide need for nature's supplies. 

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