What is Earth Overshoot Day
What is Earth Overshoot Day
What is Earth Overshoot Day

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Sean Kernan in Mind Cafe

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

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Earth Overshoot Day is the day each year by which we use more resources than the earth can sustain. After this day, the resources we use up become unsustainable for the planet. This is an important topic to consider, especially during Earth Month! 

When Is Earth Overshoot Day? 

Earth Overshoot Day is a day that changes each year, depending on how many resources, both sustainable and unsustainable for the environment, are used. In 2019, It was July 29th. This was because, among many other reasons, the carbon footprint from burning fossil fuels accounted for over 60 percent of our ecological footprint. 

However, with the increased interest in sustainability, Earth Overshoot Day has slowly been pushed back further and further, later in the year.  For example, in 2020, this day was August 22. It is calculated using the Earth’s biocapacity, or ability to generate resources, and humanity’s ecological footprint, or the resources that we use. 

How Did The Pandemic Affect It? 

The Covid-19 pandemic was a factor that affected Earth Overshoot Day, causing carbon emissions to decrease by 14.5 percent. This is most likely due to the fact that many people all over the world drove less, and stayed home at the risk of becoming affected by Covid-19. 

It also caused our impact on forests to decrease by only 8.4 percent, as demands for forest products increased in 2020. This affected the Canadian forest industry and the Amazon most significantly. The lumber harvest in the Canadian forest industry was reduced by approximately 60 percent, and deforestation in the Amazon increased 55 percent from 2019. 

The impact of the global food system on Earth Overshoot Day was unchanged by the pandemic. Among the population with the lowest income, food waste and malnutrition increased. Also, many small farmers in various parts of the world were put at risk of going out of business because they could not get their products to market. 

What has been done to prolong Earth Overshoot Day?

During the end of his first week in office, President Biden issued an executive order to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad. Among many other important issues related to combating climate change, this executive order states that President Biden will host a Leader’s Climate Summit on Earth Day, which is April 22nd. This will help to spread awareness of climate change, and hopefully motivate more people to actively participate in helping to save the earth. President Biden’s executive order also establishes the National Climate Task Force, which will take a whole-of-government approach dedicated to combating the climate crisis. These actions will help to prolong Earth Overshoot Day. 

What can still be done to prolong it? 

There have been many actions taken in order to prolong Earth Overshoot Day, and there are still many other actions that can be taken to prolong it further. First and foremost, we can look to solutions in nature. Utilizing fertile soil, clean water, and clean air is one solution that can help nature to thrive. Classical conservation or efforts to protect wildlife species will also help improve the environment, as will the restoration of ecosystems such as tropical forests and mangroves. Regenerative agriculture and sustainable fishing are alternative eco-friendly, sustainable solutions to food that will help the environment as well. 

Another area where we may find a solution to prolonging Earth Overshoot Day is in decarbonizing the economy. What this means is that the amount of greenhouse gases each country uses would be reduced, according to the standards set by the Paris Climate Accord. If we reduce our ecological footprint by half, we will move this day back by about 3 months. This will also benefit the economy by using sustainable technologies for buildings and increasing electricity production to use in place of nonrenewable resources such as greenhouse gases.

Want to calculate your own personal Overshoot Day? Go here to find out for yourself! If we all do our part to prolong Earth Overshoot Day, we can help to save the earth! 

If you liked this blog post, this article about textile waste might inspire you to shop sustainably, so you can do your part to prolong Earth Overshoot Day! 

By Anna Swatski 

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