World needs Pope Francis' leadership as Earth Overshoot Day moves up, revealing massive environmental debt
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A startling new statistic reveals we are consuming the Earth's resources much faster than nature can restock them. Such rampant consumption will lead to conflict and collapse for billions of people as resources dwindle. The world needs strong moral leadership.
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Pope Francis is providing the leadership we need. Are we faithful enough to follow?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nature replenishes itself. It is self-healing and self-correcting. It is a complex work of genius that no human could ever rival. Yet, we are endangering ourselves by consuming what nature creates faster than it can be replenished. This is the conclusion of the latest work by the Global Footprint Network. The Network has moved its symbolic "Earth Overshoot Day" up to August 1st, which is an all-time high.
The Network's researchers find ways to measure Earth's resources, such as fish stocks, timber, air and water, and compares those figures to our rate of consumption. The solution to that ratio provides a number that we can plot on a calendar.
This year, the result reveals humans use all the resources generated by nature as early as August 1. This is the earliest date for Earth Overshoot Day in history. We began 'overshooting' nature in 1970.
Earth Overshoot Day has moved up to August 1. Graphic: The Guardian.
Another way to think about the figure is to think of a budget. If you are paid each week, you want to spend less money than you earn, so you can build savings for the future. At a minimum, you want to spend no more than you make. If you spend more than you earn, you will need to use a credit card. Of course, this has the effect of putting you into debt, and as your debt grows, bankruptcy looms.
For Earth, the problem is worse than bankruptcy. As resources deplete, we are likely to go to war over the diminishing supplies. Eventually, even the winners will run out of supplies and become destitute. We will face global shortages, even famines. For billions of people, their quality of life will plunge. Billions more will die.
This doesn't have to be our future.
Pope Francis has published Laudato Si, an encyclical that provides a moral guide for how we should treat the environment and manage our resources.
Pope Francis is in a powerful position to influence global policy. As a recognized moral leader, with more than a billion followers, people listen when he speaks. It is time to listen again.
The future holds great promise. Revolutions in farming, ranching, energy, recycling, and more can make the planet more abundant than we ever imagined. But to accomplish this, we need to follow the moral leadership we have.
As always, we face a classic choice. We can follow our moral teaching and make the world more like heaven, or we can disobey and make the world more like a hell.
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