Earth Overshoot Day
What is it and why is it important?
With Governments and citizens around the world striving for economies to bounce back after the Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘great reset’ on climate change is quickly turning into a ‘return to normal’. One clear sign of this is that global emissions are already creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels. This is anything but a great reset on climate change and it’s why days like Earth overshoot day (EOD) are so important.
So, what exactly is EOD?
EOD is the day on which humanity's resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year. Overshoot refers to the passing of the planet's sustainable biological resources.
How is it calculated?
EOD is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity's consumption of Earth's natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365 days in a year.
In 2021 it falls on July 29th.
Why is it important?
Conceptualising our individual and collective impact on the world through the burning of fossil fuels and other harmful gases is difficult. Invisible gases can be ignored, scientific data takes time to collect and analyze and it’s still refuted and cast aside by vested interests.
EOD is a simple way to illustrate that we’re living beyond our means. We have to change. We must change if we want to lessen the impact of global warming for future generations. EOD is a stake in the ground to show where we are globally and that we must act now.
We can also see in this infographic where EOD would land if we lived according to the lives of people within countries and not as a global community.
Ok, what can we do?
People and cities, businesses and governments can all act to make a difference. Individually, you can donate directly to the Global Footprint Network, the non-profit organisation set-up in 2003 that calculates EOD and spreads awareness: Donate to the Global Footprint Network
According to the EOD website: “The past does not necessarily determine our future. Our current choices do. Through wise, forward-looking decisions, we can turn around natural resource consumption trends while improving the quality of life for all people.”
Identifying 5 key solutions areas, they go into detail around exactly what’s needed to move the date. The solution areas are: Planet, Cities, Energy, Food, Population
A specific example of moving the date in Planet is: Reforesting 350 million hectares of forest would move the date of Overshoot Day by 8 days.
This example may seem too daunting for any individual to make a difference or know where to start. But individuals really can make a difference in their everyday choices, and by putting pressure on larger organisations to make changes sooner rather than later. Small collective steps that reduce harmful emissions will make a difference and help us move the date.