Earth Overshoot Day 2010

Unfortunately, it’s not something to celebrate.

In 2008, I wrote about ecological debt – using up resources at a rate faster than what the planet can regenerate in a calendar year. The day of the year that line is crossed has been called “Earth Overshoot Day”. Back in 2006, it was October 6. In 2008, Earth Overshoot Day was on September 23.

This year, according to a report on the Daily Telegraph, from August 21 until the end of the year we will be living beyond our global environmental means – a month earlier than in 2009.

Today – August 17 – humanity is sitting on 98% of nature’s budget for the year according to the counter on the Global Footprint Network.

Earth Overshoot Day was devised by U.K.-based New Economics Foundation. The day is calculated by dividing the world’s biocapacity in hectares by the world’s ecological footprint in hectares and then multiplied by 365 (or 366 on a leap year I assume).

Once we pass Earth Overshoot Day, we go into ecological debt, depleting nature’s capital and letting waste accumulate. It’s a bit like nibbling away at your retirement savings to the point that when you do actually retire, there’s nothing left.

We won’t fix this on our own. We won’t fix this overnight – but we can start making inroads right now. As you go about your day, think of something you can do without – not a necessity, but a “want” – or think about a way to make something you do a little greener.

These simple green actions, multiplied by millions, do help. But maybe it won’t be enough; and that being the case, living a greener and perhaps a little leaner life will make it easier to accept the larger adjustments that may have to occur in the future.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.


One green thing