European Wilderness Society

Earth Overshoot Day – From today we live in the future

The World Overshoot Day in 2019 came to be 29th July. The date means that we have completely consumed nature’s annual resources to this day. In other words, mankind has used up a year’s worth of natural resources such as water, soil and clean air in only 7 months.

Despite the sunny summer weather, people who feel environmentalism close to their heart, trying to be educated, living more consciously, trying to minimize their ecological footprint in order to preserve their environment, probably feel bitter. Unfortunately what we’re experiencing is not science fiction, it’s reality: we are living up the reserves of the future.

The Earth Overshoot Day is calculated every year by the Global Footprint Network. It was 1st August last year, 2nd August in 2017 and 8th August the year before. Not surpisingly, this year is keeping a record: the earliest date ever. Not so long ago, the matter was a lot less urgent. Less than 50 years ago, in 1970, the Earth Overshoot Day came on 23rd December was achieved. At this time the utilization of our natural resources was almost optimal.

How many Earths would be enough?

The act thay we are overspending our natural capital at this rate is astonishing. We would need approx. 1.7 Earths to fulfill our greed. Of course this number is a global average, but it is interesting to look at how this rate would change if the whole world’s population was to live like specific countries. If the world population was to live the same as the people in Australia, we would need 4 Earths, or more than 5 in the US. This year, Qatar and Luxembourg hold the record, which would require no less than 9 Earths!

The effects of global ecological overspending is increasingly visible and feelable all around the world. Deforestation, drought, scarcity of drinking water, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and increasing CO2 concentration in the athmosphere.

But, before we give up completely, it’s important to emphasise that the process is reversible! If we delay the overshoot day by a couple days each year, we would still be able return to a more sustainable consumption rate in a couple decades. If we were to throw out only half as much food around the world as we do now, or through a drastic but crutial cut, manage to reduce our carbon footprint by half, we would gain months!

Overshoot Day is a good warning to realize how overconsuming our lifestyle is and how far we are from a sustainable common future. In the European Wilderness Society, we fight to preserve Europe’s last Wilderness. Wilderness that is free from human extraction and intervention, Wilderness which we respect for its natural value by leaving it alone.

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