Humans have now reached Earth Overshoot Day 2016. In less than eight months, we have used more natural resources than the planet is capable of producing during an entire year. For the remainder of 2016, we will be selfishly living on resources rightfully belonging to future generations.
Earth Overshoot Day
“From Monday August 8, we will be living on credit because in eight months we would have consumed the natural capital that our planet can renew in a year,” says Pascal Canfin, head of the French section of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In 2015, humans overshot the Earth’s resource budget on August 13. And in 2000, Earth Overshoot Day occurred in late September. The trend is unsettling.
You can think about this as a bank account. For the first 7 months and 8 days in 2016, we lived on our regular salary, after that we started chipping into our savings or racking up credit card debt. (Source: video transcript).
Published on August 5, 2016
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Our current pace of over-development and overpopulation is irrefutably unsustainable. If humans continue lo live as they do now, we will continue to need the resources of 1.6 planet Earths to meet our demands. And if the entire planet adopted a North American lifestyle, we would require 5 Earths to meet our needs.
Our ecological footprint consists of a demand side and a supply side. It can be calculated by nation, region, city or for one single person.
By using a footprint calculator you can determine the resources needed to support your present lifestyle. Your personal ecological footprint is shaped directly by the lifestyle choices you make — purchases, food consumption, driving, leisure, travel, recycling, housing, etc.
A more indirect (but equally critical) component of one’s ecological footprint is one’s socio-political engagement. Influencing our governments on broader issues — carbon pricing, renewable energy, public transit, physical infrastructure, goods produced, land-use planning, building codes, low-carbon economy, clean technology, energy efficiency, conservation — will have a significant effect on reducing the national ecological footprint.
Pledge for the Planet
Taking the #pledgefortheplanet is a great action to undertake for the remainder of 2016 as we move beyond Earth Overshoot Day. Pledge for the Planet suggests six pledges you may want to commit to. I’ve selected the following two to begin with.
Lower my household energy consumption
Household power consumption makes up 36% of the total electricity use in the United States, 33% in Europe and 20% in Asia. Because electricity is still mostly generated from non-renewable sources, it is responsible for 38% of the global carbon Footprint. (Source: Pledge 2).
Become a natural resource expert. Determine if my country is an ecological creditor or debtor?
I want to know more about my country’s ecological footprint. Does Canada have an ecological deficit or a reserve? How many resources does Canada have and how much do Canadians use?
And how may earths would we need if the entire world lived the Canadian way of life?
Earth Overshoot Day must serve as a stark reminder of the actions we need to urgently take on an individual, country and global level to respect planetary boundaries and achieve sustainability and resilience for all. (World Wildlife Fund).
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Activist and a blogger. He’s a member of 350.Org (Ottawa), Climate Reality Canada and Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa). Rolly has been published widely in both print and online publications. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.
These are terrible statistics Rolly. The data tolling up our largely wasteful use of our planetary resources is damming! But data can also give some really different results depending on how the statistical data is compiled. For instance in this 2003 report…
…Canada’s use of energy per capita was 2.2 times that for every comparable person in the UK. This will likely have come about due to Canada’s temperature extremes ( more central heating used in winter months, and more air conditioning in summer months) and the energy requirements needed to keep a comfortable 20C temperature in the home.
It is difficult to assess who is wasting more energy than they should…it is not something that can be assessed in plain data. The true picture only becomes clear when one uses a base of basic comfort required for good living? And the basis of what all people have as a good standard of living across the world has not been established.
If we say that each person in the world may only use a fair share of resources, what is fair for one, will be stingy for another and excessive for someone else. It is a truly difficult thing to assess. Only an individual knows if he/she is taking more than he/she needs, and that means individual conscious choice comes into play and is all we can truly hope for.
What governments can do, of course, is to price all our natural resources as precious, but I see little sign of that!
One’s personal use of energy is dictated by one’s lifestyle. None of us are prepared to return to earlier times when daily subsistence living was the norm. I just realize, that by writing that, I’m being somewhat callous because 2 billion or more people live day by day or hour by hour.
As you point out, Canadians live in a large country with long distances for transportation, and long cold winters which require energy to keep warm. But each of us can and must do better. Our governments must do better. I know, and all of us know, when we can do better. There’s that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you when you can do better with conservation, recycling, less travelling, less meat. The list is endless.
My two pledges are to reduce my use of energy and also to become more knowledgeable about my country’s use of resources. Is Canada is debtor or a creditor of natural resource utilization. In other words, did Canada reach its overshoot day before the global overshoot date of August 8? I don’t know the answer to that yet but I will find out.
Agreed Rolly. I have no idea how Britain is using 3.8 times it’s replaceable earth resources. It is rather sad how we clamour for more and cheaper energy without thinking of the consequences to the planet.
It has been a sad day as I read about the vast changes already occuring due to global warming. I cannot understand how denial of this man-made catastrophe still continues. Some areas of the world have been experiencing months of searing heat 10°c above average norms. The temperatures in war-torn Iraq and Syria are above safe levels for ‘human life, let alone any other creature.
Can we create balance, or oasis of sustainability? I don’t know.
I am trying to think of everything I can reduce….no new clothes or goods unless absolutely necessary. I already only use one light at a time at night. I have halved my use of toiletries. I use only earth friendly cleaners. I eat Vegan and mostly quick stir fried. I don’t have a car (although my husband does – it is small and old and probably pollutes too much, but we don’t use it more than 4 months per year). Water use is always considered carefully – we have no garden to water. I am not sure how much I can cut back now. We use Led lights, solar energy for half our energy use, and tend to use sweaters and blankets if feeling chilly.
Perhaps you can use one of your blog’s to make s list of resource saving suggestions both on a personal scale and on a city scale. I’m sure it would help lots of us.
You are obviously doing your share. Resource-saving suggestions would be an excellent blog piece. This will require some research but I think I can pull it off given enough time. Right now I’m involved in a very intensive process the result of which will change my life significantly. The next few months will tell. I cannot go into any details at this time nor on this medium.
Latest book and documentary.
‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.
Tim – I’ve approved your comment/response to the article. But I do not agree with your perspective on the climate. It’s important for BoomerWarrior followers to understand that climate denial is still quite rampant in spite of all the evidence around us.
Thank you for your comments.
Yeah good stuff Rolly. As you know I preach this kinda stuff all the time, always love to see others do the same. Because it is, in fact, our most urgent issue. Why is that? Cuz it is behind just about every problem we got, including and especially climate change. It’s a 2+2 kinda deal, a dah. And that is why I stand baffled beyond belief that we still encourage economic growth, expressway innovation and portend that obtaining wealth is a virtue.
I understand the desire to have…and have more. I am as much an American as anybody, (though I wish I’s Canadian) and even though I’m a cheeseburger loving idiot, I can still understand that we can’t do this product gluttony stuff ANYmore.
But a cheeseburger lover is about all I am. I can’t stand product, I try to do with as little as I can. I only live on about 10 k a year, so that makes it easy. Yeah see if a fella wants to lower their footprint, just get real poor, it’ll go way down. Now a lotta people think that’s crazy, but it ain’t. It’s is what we will all do when the time comes, we’ll learn to live poor and like it. If we don’t, then we’ll product ourselves right into the grave. Can you all see it? Can ya? I hope so.
You can post this kinda stuff anytime you like Rolly, we all need to hear it. Thanks.
While poor people around the planet have a smaller footprint, one can hardly advocate for world poverty as a policy to deal with climate change and global warming. We need for the middle class up to lower its footprint by drastically modifying its daily behaviors. But I’m not holding my breath.
Cheers! I think!
Explore part II of a two-part online exhibition addressing the urgent need to live sustainably within Earth s finite resources curated by Art Works for Change The Paris climate agreement is the strongest statement yet about the need to drastically reduce the carbon Footprint, the largest contributor to Earth Overshoot. Ultimately, collapse or stability is a choice.