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Study: Earth Forced To Operate On Ecological Deficit For Rest Of 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) - An environmentally focused think tank has announced that Earth will be living in what they referred to as an ecological deficit for the remainder of the year.

As of Tuesday, humans officially exhausted the planet's resources to a point where the Earth is not able to regenerate them fully for the rest of 2013, the Global Footprint Network reports. The group referred to the official date of transition from one side of the ecological preservation coin to the other as "Earth Overshoot Day."

"Global Footprint Network tracks humanity's demand on the planet's ecological resources (such as food provisions, raw materials and carbon dioxide absorption) — its Ecological Footprint — against nature's ability to replenish those resources and absorb waste," researchers wrote in a press release on the matter. "Global Footprint Network's data show that, in less than eight months, we have used as much nature as our planet can regenerate this year."

While speaking with CBS News, GFN president Mathis Wackernagel said that the announcement is designed to grab headlines in order to make a point about human use - and overuse - of natural resources.

"It's a bit of a gimmick, I admit," he told CBS News. "It's not that tomorrow I won't be able to eat potatoes anymore."

He added, however, in the release, "Facing such constraints has direct impacts on people. Lower-income populations have a hard time competing with the rest of the world for resources."

The group isolated several countries as especially large strains on the planet, mentioning for example that "[i]t would take four Italys to support Italy." They also mention countries that are more responsible with their natural resources - and may be suffering for it.

"Not all countries demand more than their ecosystems can provide, but even the reserves of such 'ecological creditors' like Brazil, Indonesia, and Sweden are shrinking over time," researchers said. "We can no longer sustain a widening budget gap between what nature is able to provide and how much our infrastructure, economies and lifestyles require."

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