Overshoot Day

By Khaled Abou Alfa • 24th of April, 2022

In a complex world, a strong and relatively easy way to understand the extent of our unsustainablity has been simplified to defining the number of Earths we need to sustain our current lifestyles. At present that number hovers around 1.75 Earths. These results are presented across a number of graphs and maps at the Footprint Network. Historically, the last time we were consuming as much as the earth was producing, was all the way back in 1970, 52 years ago. Since then our overall trajectory has trended in one general direction only, upwards.

Number of Earths

Nature’s capacity to meet that demand is our Biological Capacity. Both Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity is usually expressed in global hectares. Human demand on nature (our Ecological Footprint) is expanded as:

A measure of how much area of biologically productive land and water an individual, population or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, using prevailing technology and resource management practices.

In a world seemingly devoid of attention, specific concepts or ideas are often huddled around an international day, held at the same time every year. Overshoot Day is a decidedly different and sobering affair, in part because it always changes every year.

Earth Overshoot Day is the day that humanity used more from nature than our planet’s Earth can regenerate in the entire year.

The 23rd of December, 1970 marks the first inaugural Overshoot Day. In 2021 this was the 29th of July. Every year the day continues to move back. For all the feel good stories that have come out of the Netherlands (some of which have been covered here in the newsletter), the 12th of April was Overshoot day for the Netherlands. This is in-spite of the Netherlands being a very well designed country with an incredible array of innovations most countries can only dream of. Other modern, industrialised countries fair worse. It’s clear that things simply have to change.

While the realities of nations might seem beyond our control to influence, we can all play our part. Here are 100 possibilities.

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