Earth Overshoot Day: Power of Possibility

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Earth Overshoot Day signifies the day in the year when humanity’s demand for ecological services and resources exceeds what the Earth can generate in that year. This deficit is maintained as we continue to release vast volumes of carbon into the atmosphere and exploit the Earth’s resources. Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by assessing the number of days in a given year that Earth’s biocapacity can provide and support humanity’s ecological footprint. Once this has been reached, the rest of the year is a global overshoot.

Measuring biocapacity
Global Footprint Network measures the human population’s demand for ecological services and resources and the supply which can be provided. These figures help calculate when Earth Overshoot Day will occur. The demand includes humanity’s ecological footprint including timber and other forest products, livestock and fish products, space for urban infrastructure, amongst other depleting activities. While supply refers to nature’s biocapacity representing biologically productive land and sea such as grazing lands, fishing grounds, and forest lands. The ecological footprint of each country, state, and city can be compared to its biocapacity. If an area’s demand exceeds its supply, it is operating an ecological deficit.

Past Earth Overshoot Days
Earth Overshoot Day has been calculated since 1961. Over the years, the date has been sliding up the calendar. Originally, it took place in December, now 62 years later it is taking place six months earlier in June. We have gone from using the resources of one Earth to requiring the resources of 1.7 Earths – this is not sustainable. The below graph demonstrates how our destructive activities are increasingly harming the planet at an alarming rate.

Country Overshoot Days
As mentioned, by considering the ecological footprint demand and biocapacity supply of a country, its Overshoot Day can be calculated. It is worth noting that not all countries have an Overshoot Day. A country will only have an overshoot day if the calculated ecological footprint per person exceeds the global biocapacity per person. The first country to reach its Earth Overshoot Day was Qatar on February 9th. In comparison, multiple countries including Bangladesh and India do not have an Overshoot Day. The image below displays when countries’ Overshoot Days occur.

Power of Possibility
The theme for Earth Overshoot Day this year is the Power of Possibility. The aim is to raise awareness of the existing solutions ready to be deployed at scale. If we utilise these solutions, we can be successful in moving the date of Earth Overshoot Day. There are many ways we can improve our resource security and reach one-planet prosperity. These solutions include financing decarbonisation, low-carbon circular concrete, and ending single-use plastics. Many of these solutions can be easily implemented with immediate effects. Solutions such as these will help to increase the longevity of Earth’s biocapacity while ensuring that all our needs are fulfilled. Countries are reaching a deficit in less than two months; this is extremely unsustainable – our planet will not survive this kind of overexploitation much longer. Discover the power of possibility here: https://www.overshootday.org/power-of-possibility/.

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