Earth Overshoot Day is the day every year, on which humanity has used up all the natural resources available for that particular year. And since it takes about a year for the planet to replenish those resources, we are effectively living on credit. It is calculated by the Global Footprint Network annually, and it falls even earlier every year. This is a real indicator of how much pressure we put on our planet’s resources. And that makes it even more important to talk about. So, let’s have a closer look.
What is Earth Overshoot Day?
Earth Overshoot Day is when humanity has overstepped its annual resource budget for the year. In other words, we’ve consumed more than nature can regenerate, in that given period. Now, that sounds pretty bad; but what does it actually mean?
The Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for natural systems through what they call “ecological overshoot.” They look at how much land and sea we use, how much waste we produce, how much carbon dioxide we emit, and how many trees and fish we consume. Then, they compare it to how much of these resources are regenerated on an annual basis. And come up with a ratio of 1:1.
The concept was initially created by the Global Footprint Network in 1968 and is being tracked every year since then. The GFN is an international non-profit organization that works to quantify humanity’s ecological footprint and advance solutions that create a sustainable society.
How is the date for Earth Overshoot Day calculated, annually?
The GFN organization uses the ecological footprint methodology. They calculate this by using data on how much land and water the population requires to produce the resources it consumes, how it absorbs its waste, and how fast it generates new resources. They do this by first calculating how many biologically productive land and water areas there are on the Earth. This is then divided by how many people live on the planet. The result is the global footprint per person. It measures how much each person consumes compared to what the Earth can regenerate per year.
Earth Overshoot Days in the past
The first Earth Overshoot Day was calculated in 1970, when it fell on December 30. In 1992, it moved to August 3, 2016, and then to July 26, 2019. In 2020, it fell on August 22 due to the lockdown forced by the global pandemic. But it has been getting earlier each year since then. According to the official website, the Earth Overshoot Day for 2022 has not been announced yet.
What are the solutions to #MoveTheDate?
We are using more than our planet can sustainably provide, and we’re doing it at a faster rate than ever before. According to an article by BBC News, ‘It has been suggested that if everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average US citizen, four Earths would be needed to sustain them.‘ However, the good news is that you can do lots of things to reduce your personal ecological footprint and move Earth Overshoot Day later each year.
The solutions are not complicated: reduce your consumption and waste; consume fewer animal products; buy local products; invest in renewable energy; stop burning fossil fuels; plant trees and other plants that absorb carbon dioxide from the air; recycle everything you can, whenever you can.
To help you with this, please read: Ecosia: A Browser That Plants Trees As You Surf The Internet
It’s an agonizing, sobering thought that as humans, we are consuming and wasting more than what our planet can produce. So, if you want to lower your carbon footprint and overall consumption of natural resources, start right now! Change your habits. Adopt new ones. Each person’s change can make a difference. And it will take a collective effort for us to #movethedate this Earth Overshoot Day.
Summing it all up
The planet’s resources are finite and must be shared between everyone on the Earth. Even with this growing awareness and the increase in sustainable practices, we are still consuming at unsustainable rates and are emitting more carbon than the Earth can handle.
The Global Footprint Network has issued a call to action for more than a decade. This year is no different – we need to put combined efforts to change our behavior, reallocate resources, and rebuild our economy to live within the means of our one and only planet. The focus on Earth Overshoot Day is real!
So, do your part to take care of the Earth, and she will take care of you.