The Earth Overshoot Day
We define “Earth Overshoot Day” the day when humanity consumes all the natural resources available on the planet for a specific year. To be more precise, the date is the imaginary point when humanity’s demand exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.
The humankind has started being “indebted” to the planet in 1970. Since then, the international research organization Global Footprint Network has been calculating the exact date of the overshoot every year. They estimated that to support humanity’s way of life, we would need 1.6 times our planet.
How is the date calculated?
To determine the exact date, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days that Earth’s biocapacity can provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The Ecological Footprint measures the ecological assets that a given population requires to produce the natural resources it consumes. Every year the Earth Overshoot comes a little earlier than the previous one.
An ecological disaster
Fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, water, wood, cotton. Once these and other resources are over for that year, humanity will start consuming more than what the planet can afford.
They will produce way more carob dioxide then the quantity our oceans and forests can normally absorb. In the end, Earth gets more and more contaminated.
A global average
Of course, the international Overshoot Day is simply the average day globally. Every single nation reaches the overshoot on a different date. The difference between the different countries depends on many factors. Each one will have to take different measures to delay their own overshoot. No country actually makes it to end of the year without reaching it.
The impact of the Coronavirus Outbreak
For the year 2020, the date is set on August, 22nd. It is approximately three weeks later than the previous year. The reason behind it is the diffusion of the Covid-19—the so-called Coronavirus global pandemic.
The Coronavirus outbreak has challenged the economy of several (if not all) countries. Global mobility has reduced, as has global production. The emission of carbon dioxide has reduced around 14.5%.
Every year the Overshoot happens a little earlier. In 2020, a global pandemic has delayed it significantly. The fact that the Overshoot happened in such a later moment is a historic moment. Nevertheless, it is almost certain that it will never happen again.
A mere accident
The delay of the Overshoot is not the result of a conscious ecological strategy. It is a mere accident. Humanity’s attitude towards our planet has not changed. The humankind currently consumes around 60% more than what it should.
The only way to change the situation would be by adopting a different strategy. It would be necessary a better use of renewable energies, to control the growth of the human population, to build and manage our city in a sustainable way. It would essential to change the way we produce and consummate our food.