August 2 turned out to be a significant day in the year 2023. It was the day the Earth ran out of its annual resource budget, also known as Earth Overshoot Day or Ecological Debt Day. In less than eight months, humans used up all the natural resources the planet can regenerate within one year.
To calculate Earth Overshoot Day each year, an organization called the Global Footprint Network collects data from the UN that includes the ecological footprint of each country as well as the biocapacity of the planet. Biocapacity refers to the planet’s ability to produce renewable resources and absorb waste. When the overshoot day passes each year, it means any natural resources used after the day cannot be replenished, and any extra carbon dioxide produced will just accumulate in the atmosphere.
While Earth Overshoot Day 2023 is months earlier than December 25, the date of the first recorded Earth Overshoot Day in 1971, it is five days later than the previous year. This indicates that the rate at which we use our resources is gradually starting to slow down. However, many things still need to be done to move Earth Overshoot Day to the end of the year.
Photos courtesy of IVY English I 照片：常春藤提供
The Global Footprint Network has stated that increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources to 75% could push the date back by 26 days. Other things, such as halving food waste and reforesting land, could move the date back as well. If steps like these aren’t taken and overshoot days continue to move up, natural disasters like heat waves, droughts, forest fires and floods will only worsen.
What Did You Learn?
1. What does biocapacity refer to?
(A) The size of each country’s ecological footprint.
(B) The number of days it takes for the planet to generate resources.
(C) The planet’s consumption of resources and release of greenhouse gases.
(D) The Earth’s ability to produce sustainable resources and soak up waste.
2. According to the passage, how has Earth Overshoot Day changed over the years?
(A) The data used is different.
(B) It has moved back significantly.
(C) It has moved forward dramatically.
(D) The way it is calculated has changed.
3. Which of the following is NOT listed as an action that can delay Earth Overshoot Day?
(A) Raising the percentage of energy sources with low-carbon emissions.
(B) Manufacturing a greater quantity of recyclable products.
(C) Reducing food waste by 50%.
Word in Use
1. annual a. 每年的；一年一次的
The annual membership fee at this gym is NT$15,000.
2. ecological a. 生態的
The destruction of these big forests could have serious ecological consequences.
3. calculate vt. 計算；估算
The meteorologists tried to calculate when the typhoon would make landfall.
4. absorb vt. 吸收
Black holes absorb light with their intense gravity.
5. accumulate vi. 累積
Dust will accumulate if a house is not cleaned on a regular basis. 如果沒有定期打掃房子，灰塵就會累積起來了。
1. turn out to be... 結果是∕竟然是……
Barney turned out to be the best friend I ever had.
2. run out of... 耗盡∕用光……
We ran out of gas on our way to the beach.
3. refer to... 指的是……
Sam was referring to his sister when he said he was fed up with dishonest people.
4. slow down 減緩，減速
There were signs at every corner along the road warning motorists to slow down.
5. take steps (to V) 採取措施∕步驟（做……）
The authorities concerned should take steps to crack down on drug abuse.
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