Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. As of August 1, 2017, the world overshot its annual resources budget for 2018 in just seven months, according to the Global Footprint Network, which means that people are consuming nature’s resources 1.7 times faster than the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate them. It’s the earliest date for the event since calculations began by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) in 1971. To keep pace with overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere can tuck away, we need the equivalent of 1.7 planet earth’s.
A Steep and Slippery Slope
Did you know that 30 years ago, Earth Overshoot Day was marked on December 19th? Since then, humans have been using and consuming a whole ton of stuff and our Overshoot Day keeps moving to the left. Ten years ago, when the first Earth Overshoot Day campaign launched, the date was in October.
So how is Earth Overshoot Day determined? The date is calculated by the Global Footprint Network, which has a number of tools to “help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.” GFN divides the amount of ecological resources the planet can generate that year by humanity’s demand:
Biocapacity includes a nation’s supply and is represented by productive land and sea area. Our ecological footprint is our demand for food and infrastructure products.
With all the doom and gloom that the day can bring, it’s important to stay positive and use the knowledge to make changes in your own life. The GFN has created the #MoveTheDate campaign to encourage people to create change. It explains that if Earth Overshoot Day was moved back 4.5 days each year, humans could return to “living within the means of one Earth” before 2050.
As part of the #MoveTheDate campaign, the day’s creators have come up with seven small changes you can make in your everyday life to make an impact. The actions include: opting for a vegetarian diet or consuming less meat, riding public transportation, learning more about human consumption, engaging your local leadership, reducing food waste, donating to earth-friendly organizations and monitoring your own footprint.
Mathis Wackernagel, president of the GFN, believes the seven steps are “a way to translate something that feels insurmountable into kind of bite-sized opportunities.” If Earth Overshoot Day was moved back 4.5 days each year, humans could return to “living within the means of one Earth” before 2050.
What’s your footprint?
GFN has also introduced a new tool to calculate an individual’s footprint. Through a calculator that’s more like a 3D video game, users can see their own usage compared with others. The tool also provides actions to lessen your consumption. Determine your personal overshoot day here.
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