Let’s Stop the Ponzi Scheme
Bernie Madoff was a master scammer. His Ponzi scheme relied on a constant flow of new investments to provide returns for earlier ones.
Our economy is running a Ponzi scheme with the planet. We use future resources to run the present. Humanity consumes natural resources more quickly than Earth can replenish them. Like any scheme, this works for some time. But debt accumulates and eventually bursts. Humanity’s ecological debt accumulates as carbon in the atmosphere, while fish stocks collapse, soils erode, and groundwater dries up.
At Global Footprint Network, we act as ecological accountants. Using UN data, we add up all human demands that compete for biologically productive space. This is what we call humanity’s “Ecological Footprint.” This demand on the planet’s regeneration then can be compared with the biologically productive space that exists on our planet (what we call “biocapacity”).
Our biocapacity is mostly concentrated on ~12.2B hectares of the planet’s surface. But our demand on nature adds up to over 20.9B. We are 9B short.
By August 1, we will have used nature’s resource budget for the entire year. See www.OvershootDay.org
While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity’s greatest strengths.
You can calculate your personal Overshoot Day at www.footprintcalculator.org, which will determine how many planets we need if everyone lives like you.
Afterwards, I urge you to chime in below with thoughts and concerns about what changes you want to see to get us on track.
Ending Ponzi schemes before they collapse takes resolve. The Ponzi scheme at hand will end; the question is whether by design or disaster. Marking Earth Overshoot Day amplifies the needed conversations.
*** Mathis Wackernagel is co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and CEO of Global Footprint Network. He was inducted into the ISSP Sustainability Hall of Fame in 2014.***