Why Should we Care about The Earth Overshoot Day?

The other day, I had come across a post about there are so many days to think about like Father’s day, mother’s day, Friendship day etc. by Surreally Gibberish which got me searching about different days (United Nations recognises 173 Such Days) and I came across the Earth Overshoot Day. Initially, I thought it was an arbitrary day to save the environment.

One of my major displeasures of the concept for having days to celebrate something or remind something to us seems to tell how we have fallen as a species when we need a day to remind ourselves to be grateful to mothers, fathers, women, etc which are supposed to be done all the time. And also, Hi there, Capitalism! That’s the same with the Environment. Having a day definitely has the plus point of spreading awareness of what we should be doing anyway. I thought this was a day to remind us to be mindful of the resources we are using.

But then I checked it out a little more about it and it hit me hard enough to write about it.

When is it?

The Earth Overshoot day is not an arbitrarily chosen day. It varies each year based on our use of the environment (I will elaborate more on it in a minute)
But for 2020, the Earth Overshoot Day was on 22 August 2020 which is three weeks later when compared to last year.

What is World Overshoot Day?

To answer this question, we must know what exactly is the World Overshoot Day. The official definition states that, “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.”If this seemed to go over your head, here is an analogy.

A child receives Rs. 2000 each month as his pocket money from his parents. Here the parents are the Earth and the resource generated each month by the parents (earth) for the child (humans) is Rs 2000. The child is a spend thrift and spends at a rate of Rs 200 each day. At this pace the Child would run out of the pocket money within 10 days before which his parents are able to replenish the Childs wants.

Similarly, the day we humans use up the resources that can naturally be regenerated by the earth is called the Earth Overshoot Day when calculated from January 1 each year. The ideal date for the Earth Overshoot day is December 31st, for that means that we have used exactly the amount of resource in one year that the Earth can regenerate in the year.

Any early than 31 December, we are incurring a debt of resources for ourselves which the Earth cannot regenerate.

This year, on 22 August 2020, we have already exhausted all the resources the Earth could regenerate and are practically living on the resources needed in 2021! At the current rate at which we are consuming resources, we would need 1.7 Earths to replenish it’s resources.

Should we celebrate this Day?

Currently No. But, we definitely should celebrate this Day each year we delay the Earth Overshoot Day towards December 31. This indicates that we are moving in the right direction towards Sustainability.

Is it all doom and gloom?

It is a matter of concern to see that the Earth Overshoot Day lies in August, just shy of half of an year. Thanks to Covid and global lockdowns that we have been able to push the date by 3 weeks when compared to August 1 in 2019.

There are two major learnings here, one is positive and one is negative:

The Negative One: Inspite of severe global lockdowns and mainly running on essentials for about 6 months, we were able to push the date by just 21 days. This just shows how much resources are taken up for our essentials itself with ever increasing population and most of the world still living in poverty. Each family that comes out of poverty has an increase in demand from our natural resources.
The Positive One: COVID 19 has taught us that we humans are capable of uniting and creating large movements when we focus on a goal. All we need to do is shift our mindsets. We have seen proofs! For the first time in ages, we could see blue skies instead of grey skies. The Himalayas were visible from super far regions! We have seen that if we dial back on our wants, we can make a better place for all of us.

In the end, it does matter, We don’t have to fall and don’t need to lose it all. (Please appreciate the reference, puppy face)

There is a need for all of us to shift our mindset and work together to Move the Date.

What can you do?

“Hahaha! I’m just one person, there’s nothing I can do that would bring such a huge change! It is an issue with the system and we know how efficient changing the system is.”

True, it is difficult but that doesn’t excuse us from not doing our part. A teacher in school put it bluntly “If you see people peeing on the road, doesn’t mean you have the liberty to join them. You can be cool withing peeing on the roads too!”. This basically means we must do our part and do whatever we can for our own and collective benefit.

If you are reading this blog, you are privileged enough to have an internet connection and are part of the small percentage of humans hogging most of the resources (including me). And hence, it is us who can make the most difference. The more developed and privileged we are, the more we use up energy.

I really do not want to suggest things like Switch off your lights and turn off your tap. These are things that you already know. If you are following them, good for you and good for all of us and you are doing a great job. If you are, start trying out one of the most common habits that you know of!

So,Here are some things you can do which are fun and make you look cool by doing so too!

1: This is perhaps the easiest of all. There’s a huge possibility that you are one of those who love to binge. How about take some time off and watch a few super interesting shows on the environment?
Check out this post by Caitlin to start your journey with 5 Environmental Documentaries to Watch for starters!

2: Just check out the hashtag #movethedate on Twitter and Instagram. This might help you learn more about what individuals are doing and understand that you are not alone and might get better ideas to do things which you can!
Twitter #movethedate: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23MoveTheDate
Instagram #movethedate : https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/movethedate/

3: Check out your own Resource footprint in the link below You might be shocked to know how much your footprint is! Being an Indian, a vegetarian who uses public transport which basically is an average user of resources in the world I was super shocked with my results!

Ouch!

Yes, these calculators may not be exact or completely accurate. But they sure do give an indication in the direction! Even taking an error of 3o%, If everyone lived like me, we’d need 1.12 Earths! Not to mention, the global standard of living is increasing. And as mentioned earlier, the more developed a community is, the more resources it would use. You can also check out how it is calculated Here.

4: Just talk about the Earth Overshoot Day or just sustainable living with people around you! You would be surprised that there are people who do things which you might not have expected.
A friend of mine had written a blog post on How he made his life sustainable. Do check it out, it sure is insightful.
Another friend of mine stopped using single-use plastics and is still thriving. He even picks up the trash people leave behind during his travels to tourist destinations! I have tried following this and sometimes, people saw me pick up trash and do the same! That is change enough!

Speaking about trash, Trevor Noah has something to say as well!

In Summary

There is a lot we can do, making changes in our own lives. All we have to do is talk more about it and even if we follow a small amount of what we preach, we are still making a difference.

Think about this, share it with the folks around you and be a cool person to make the Earth a better place to live in.

Let’s make saving the world a fun Job!

I would love it if you could share when your Personal Overshoot day was and also what would you try to do to save the world in a way that’s fun? (It can be from the simplest thing to the biggest change! A change is a change and it does matter)
Let’s start the conversation and I would love to know more from you! Please do drop in your comments!


Cover Pic Credits: Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Why Should we Care about The Earth Overshoot Day?

  1. A great piece Kushal! 🙂

    This is something not many people know about and was a really interesting read. I do sometimes have a darker look on carbon footprint but you have pointed out how to check our carbon footprint before passing judgement.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a really insightful and detailed post – I’d not heard of World Overshoot day before! Some really encouraging points made. Thank you also for sharing my post, I’m glad you thought it could be of benefit! 🙂

    Like

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