If you are here reading this blog, you're probably present enough to have noticed the dreadful day that came on the first of August last week. Sooner than it ever has come, Earth Overshoot Day fell very early this year.
This no longer goes out to the tree hugging-type. The days that only pretzeled yogis and flower-powered hippies were concerned about the environment, are long gone (just like birckenstocks are for everyone now too). Jokes aside: this involves every single being living and breathing on this planet. We all walk the same earth, but when we overshoot her, is when we play ourselves. Hard. By flying through our natural resources this fast, we are progressively borrowing from our future. There’s no denying we are in debt now. It’s our kids and grandkids that need to deal with that payback.
Earth Overshoot Day is the day human consumption exceeds the natural supply our earth can provide and replenish. That is to say, when our global ecological footprint (= how much land and water we use up + how much land and water we need to process our waste) is bigger than our biodiversity (= how much the earth can recruit). Now that it has fallen on the 222nd day of the year, we need 1,7 earths worth of nature to make up for our use. Actually, 3,5 if the whole world would live like the average person does in the Netherlands... A bit shameful to say the least. Calculate your own personal footprint here.
So what are we looking at? When we keep going at this pace, climate change will keep picking up (say hey if you have been enjoying the heatwave this summer), food deficit will keep depleting populations all over the world, and the highly essential and beautiful flora and fauna we have left on our planet will slowly but surely reduce and vanish.
HOW CAN WE HELP
Okay, enough time spent in the naughty corner. We don’t want to discriminate according to how much earth you personally use up, we still love you! But we love the earth too, so from this, we would like to point out the main solutions https://www.overshootday.org has listed for us. Enough bowing our heads down. Time to pick ourselves up and put one foot in front of the other. Yes, we are collectively burning our one and only home down, but we who set that fire, are the only ones who can extinguish it. Or at least slow it down. These are the key areas in which the solutions lay.
1. ENERGY - How we power ourselves.
Fossil fuels versus renewables - this currently makes up the biggest share of our overall Footprint.
This means: reducing our carbon emissions by 50% would move Earth Overshoot Day by more than three months, and affect Global Warming the most. This involves driving (keep paddling your bike or hitting public transport, and if you really need a car, go electric), air travel (fly less frequently, shorter distances, and economy class), and your home (make sure all new appliances are sustainable, with solid insulations and solars for example, stay mindful about thermos, water usage and lighting).
2. FOOD - How we produce, distribute and consume food.
Local, vegetable-based diets versus industrial animal-based diets - currently food production uses over half of our planet's biocapacity.
This means: we’re all about that plant-based diet, as you know, and this might be our biggest motivation. Eat and drink your nuts, fruits, veggies, stay local, and do as much as you can to minimize your waste. That means no throwing food away when it can still be saved (we freeze and give away ours to the Voedselbank), and recycle, recycle, recycle.
3. POPULATION - How many of us there are.
The more we are, the less planet per person. Empowering women leads to smaller, healthier, and better educated families.
This means: Educating and supporting our girls may be the best investment in the wellbeing of the next generation, especially in countries or cultures where equality is not the norm.
4. CITIES - How we design and manage cities.
Compact and integrated versus sprawling and segregated - this determines both heating and cooling needs, as well as transportation.
This means: all of the above is implemented here. Since 70-80% of all people are expected to live an urban life by 2050, how we operate there has a huge impact. In the city is where we make or break the global effort to be sustainable.
picture by Nanda Hagenaars