This years, Earth Overshoot Day 2018 is August 1, the earliest date since ecological overshoot started in the early 1970s. It marks the date when we, all of humanity, have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year.
“The resource demand of humanity overall and what Earth is able to renew doesn’t fluctuate that dramatically” Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of the Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint
According to Global Footprint Network, we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to maintain our current appetite for resources. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb. By 2020, human demand on the planet’s ecosystems is projected to exceed what nature is able to regenerate by about 75 percent.
Together, let’s #MoveTheDate toward sustainability
To #MoveTheDate, the Global Footprint Network provides solutions, action steps, and a Footprint calculator to help us all thrive within the means of our one planet.
We can reverse the trend. If we moved back Earth Overshoot Day by five days every year, we would return to using the resources of less than one planet by 2050. Ahead of Earth Overshoot Day 2018, the Global Footprint Network highlights opportunities for action that are available today and estimates their impact on the date of Earth Overshoot Day.
For instance, replacing 50% of meat consumption with a vegetarian diet would move the date of Overshoot Day by five days; reducing the carbon component of the global Ecological Footprint by 50% would move the date of Overshoot Day by 93 days.
“At Global Footprint Network, we believe that overusing Earth’s ecosystems is one of the largest challenges facing humanity today, with climate change being a big portion of that challenge,” concluded Dr Wackernagel. “Transforming our economies to address this challenge is no easy task. But just as humanity has tapped creativity and ingenuity in the past, we can do so again to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction.”
What are the possible solutions?
Plenty of solutions exist in four major areas for improving sustainability:
- Cities: eighty percent of the world population is expected to live in cities by 2050. Consequently, city planning and urban development strategies are instrumental to balancing the supply of natural capital and the population’s demand. Learn more
- Energy: decarbonizing the economy is our best possible chance to address climate change, and would improve the balance between our Ecological Footprint and the planet’s renewable natural resources. Learn more
- Food: altering how we meet one of our most basic needs – food – is a powerful way to influence sustainability. Sourcing food locally and avoiding highly processed foods can lower the Ecological Footprint. Learn more
- Population: being committed to everyone living secure lives in a world of finite resources requires addressing population growth. Empowering women is essential for global sustainability. Learn more
Explore these options in more detail, and find out how many days we can #MoveTheDate embracing these kinds of solutions.
Wetlands, the carbon sinks, contribute to #MoveTheDate?
Reducing the carbon component of humanity’s Ecological Footprint by 50% would get us from consuming the resources of 1.7 Earths down to 1.2 Earths. This corresponds to moving the date of Overshoot Day by 93 days, or about three months.
Wetlands can be a part of the solution to #MovTheDate of Overshoot Day thanks to its role in carbon storage and sequestration. According to the Ramsar Convention, coastal marshes and mangroves capture an average of between 6 and 8 tons of CO2 equivalent per hectare per year, which is about two to four times greater than global rates observed in mature tropical forests. Furthermore, peatlands, for example, cover 3% of the global land area, but contain approximately 30% of all the carbon on land, equivalent to 75% of all atmospheric carbon and twice the carbon stock in the global forest biomass.
Website of Earth Overshoot Day: www.overshootday.org
Press releases: www.overshootday.org/newsroom/
Hashtag on social media: #MoveTheDate
To calculate your own Overshoot Day and Ecological Footprint, go to: www.footprintcalculator.org
Ecological Footprint Explorer open data platform: data.footprintnetwork.org