Today, July 29th 2021, is Earth Overshoot Day.
Between January 1st and July 29th, humanity used up the entirety of ecological resources that Earth is capable of regenerating in the space of a full year. So, in just under 7 months, we’ve used up 12 months’ worth of natural resources. A frightening thought.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s ecological footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year. This calculation is performed by scientists at the Global Footprint Network, and you can find details of how the date is determined in this report.
Figure 1 shows that the date has moved from late December in 1970, when humanity was just about living within planetary boundaries, to July 29th this year.
In order to #movethedate, we need to reduce our ecological footprint by reducing our demands on finite resources, including energy, food and all types of consumer goods. This might look like preventing food waste at home, making your next phone a refurbished secondhand one instead of brand new, deciding to fly less, or even looking into a home energy grant to help pay for things like loft and cavity wall insulation. None of this is new, but it works.
It’s also vitally important to restore the planet’s biocapacity. One key measure of biocapacity is Earth’s ability to absorb the greenhouse gases we produce. This of course is done by plants — notably trees — and soil. Sadly, the Global Footprint Network reports that in 2021, deforestation in the Amazon spiked, and was estimated to increase by 43% versus 2020, when 1.1 million hectares were destroyed. In fact, Earth’s biocapacity has declined much more rapidly than our ecological footprint has increased — see Figure 2. (Note that these measures are per person — and the human population world population increased from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.7 billion in 2019.)
Reforestation is the best means of restoring biocapacity, along with turning to regenerative agriculture approaches. Actions anyone can take here include supporting charities that care for woodlands, such as the Woodland Trust; eating less meat, since forest land is often cleared to rear cattle; or planting a tree at home.
What will you do to help move the date? Let me know in the comments.
#movethedate #sustainability #sustainableliving #globalwarming #climateaction