At ShareWares, our commitment to sustainability goes beyond the borders of Vancouver. We believe in raising awareness about global ecological challenges, and one crucial marker that demands our attention is Earth Overshoot Day (EOD). An annual event calculated by Global Footprint Network, EOD signifies the day when humanity's resource consumption surpasses Earth's capacity to regenerate those resources within a year." In 1971, Earth Overshoot Day fell on December 25th. At the moment of writing we are in the year 2023, and EOD falls on August 2nd. It serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need to reassess our consumption patterns and our current linear economic model which takes, makes, and wastes.
The Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity: Measuring Humanity's Impact
The ecological footprint is a powerful metric that gauges the biologically productive land and sea area needed to produce all the resources consumed by a population and absorb its carbon emissions. It offers critical insights into our demand for ecological resources and helps us comprehend the consequences of our actions on the environment.
On the other hand, biocapacity measures the planet's biologically productive area, including forests, grazing lands, cropland, and fishing grounds. It reflects Earth's capacity to regenerate resources and absorb waste, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. When biocapacity exceeds the ecological footprint, it signifies a sustainable balance between human demand and the Earth's ability to renew resources.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. It’s derived from dividing the planet’s biocapacity by humanity’s ecological footprint, and multiplying by 365. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot.
The Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the planet's biocapacity (in global hectares) by humanity's ecological footprint (in global hectares) and multiplying by the number of days in a year, which is 365. (Climate Consulting by Sectra)
The precise Earth Overshoot Day date for each year is less significant than the sheer magnitude of the ecological overshoot, as well as the overall trend of the date progression year over year. Over the last decades, the date has been creeping up the calendar every year.
1.7 Earths: Humanity's Ecological Overshoot
Global Footprint Network's data reveals a concerning reality: humanity's demand for resources is now equivalent to that of more than **1.7 Earths**. In other words, it takes approximately 1.7 years for the Earth to regenerate the resources we consume in just one year. This overshoot is a critical indicator of our unsustainable consumption patterns and its impact on the planet's ecosystems and biodiversity.
Image displaying change of Overshoot Day per year from 1971 to 2023 (National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2023)
Why should I care? What are the consequences?
The implications of ecological overshoot are far-reaching, and the costs of resource depletion are becoming increasingly evident. Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas emissions, stands as the most obvious result with widespread effects. In addition to climate change, ecological overshoot leads to other biophysical effects such as deforestation, species loss, soil erosion, and the collapse of fisheries. These resource insecurities can give rise to economic stress, including monetary inflation, and trigger conflicts such as civil unrest.
Earth Overshoot Day and the Urgency for Change
Earth Overshoot Day serves as a poignant reminder that we need to take collective action to bridge the gap between human demand and Earth's regenerative capacity. At ShareWares, we firmly believe that individual actions, combined with the efforts of businesses and communities, can drive significant change. By participating in #TheKitsExperiment and adopting reusable cups and containers, you can contribute to the reduction of waste pollution and support a sustainable future for Kitsilano and broader Vancouver.
Small steps taken today can leave to meaningful impacts on a global scale.
Understanding Earth Overshoot Day empowers us to make informed decisions about our lifestyles and the fundamentally unsustainable way our system and society are operating. It highlights the urgency to embrace sustainable practices that strike a balance between human needs and Earth's regenerative capacity.