Many people might have not been aware that 29th July 2021 was an important date for all of us: it marked this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. This term was coined by Andrew Simms and its use has been promoted by the Global Footprint Network since 2006.
Earth Overshoot Day designates the date when the ecological resources allocated for that year have been entirely consumed. Thus, starting from 30th July 2021, the resources used will be “stolen” from the years to come, as the Earth will not be capable of regenerating those resources in time for that year.
We are overusing our Earth’s resources
Each year’s Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by considering the Earth’s biocapacity and humanity’s ecological footprint. The biocapacity of our Earth is the quantity of ecological resources that it can regenerate in a certain year, whereas humanity’s ecological footprint is humanity’s demand of resources for the year considered.
The four major factors that lead to overshoot are:
- Unrestrained use of natural resources
- Inefficient production chains
- Growing population
- Inability of ecosystems to regenerate in a short time
The demand for natural resources grows, but the availability of those resources remains the same. According to data provided by the United Nations, Ecological overshoot was first reached at the beginning of the 1970s. These days, we use 1.7 Earths each year. Maintaining this trend unchanged will result in the exhaustion of natural resources and, thus, put the survival of Earth’s inhabitants in danger.
Solutions for delaying Earth Overshoot Day
The news about the depletion of natural resources can give rise to pessimistic attitudes, as people might believe that they have no power to improve the situation or to prevent the gloomiest forecasts from happening. However, there are actions that individuals, companies and governments can take to prevent the current ecological situation from getting worse and eventually regain the health of our planet. For example, the project 100 Days of Possibility was created to highlight what can be done, rather than what our ecosystems have already lost, and is being promoted with the hashtag #MoveTheDate.
Each day for 100 days, from Earth Overshoot Day 2021 to COP 26 (the UN Climate Change Conference), the promoters of 100 Days of Possibility will propose different ways to use less resources and help our planet to regenerate itself. Some of the solutions already proposed include eating local food, using bicycles instead of cars, limiting food waste and creating green roofs on buildings. The main message of this initiative is that we have all the means to live a healthy, thriving, prosperous life on our planet.
Earth Overshoot Day. 2021. 100 Days of Possibility – #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.overshootday.org/100-days-of-possibility/. [Accessed 06 August 2021].
Earth Overshoot Day. 2021. Earth Overshoot Day 2021 Home – #MoveTheDate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.overshootday.org/. [Accessed 06 August 2021].
Earth Overshoot Day. 2021. Media Backgrounder. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/media-backgrounder/. [Accessed 06 August 2021].
Global Footprint Network. 2021. Our History. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.footprintnetwork.org/about-us/our-history/. [Accessed 06 August 2021].
Global Shakers. 2021. Andrew Simms: The Ideator of Earth Overshoot Day. [ONLINE] Available at: https://globalshakers.com/andrew-simms-the-ideator-of-earth-overshoot-day/. [Accessed 06 August 2021].
Written by Maria Bruno, Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds a master’s degree in Translation and a bachelor’s degree in Italian Language and Literature. She is trained in websites and social media management, content writing and SEO. Currently, she is studying for her Diplôme Universitaire in Terminology at the University of Savoie-Mont Blanc.