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EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY: 100 DAYS OF POSSIBILITY

Earth Overshoot Day marks when we use up the allotted natural resource budget for the year. The pandemic caused a drop in the cycle but it did not have a lasting effect. In 2021 it fell on the 29th of July. To learn more, continue to the article.

Words By Dina Abedini Niknam

25/08/2021

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is fast approaching from the 31st of October till the 12th of November. Another important date you might have lost sight of is the 29th of July, 2021. It is the day that marks this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. Each year, there is an ‘allocated’ amount of resources to be used, and Overshoot Day marks the date on which we officially surpass that limit. This year it is almost the same date as it was back in 2019, before the pandemic; so if you have not yet heard about this initiative and what it stands for, keep reading to find out why this news is worse than it sounds.

Earth Overshoot Day was thought up by Andrew Simms, a member of the New Economics Foundation, a UK think tank. The Foundation then “partnered with Global Footprint Network in 2006 to launch the first global Earth Overshoot Day campaign”. The idea behind the campaign is to show people real numbers. The Foundation believes that this is the way to create the largest impact. If you can show people how their actions have real consequences, they are more likely to be driven to real change. Here is a look at the statistics the organisation compiled so far:

EOD uses the following formula to calculate the date: 

(Earth’s Biocapacity/Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day.

In 1970 the Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) was on December 30th, as we used up our resources just a day before the new year began. As is clear in the data above, however, this date is steadily being pushed back. When the organisation first launched in 2006, EOD fell on August 18th. This year, it is July 29th. The year of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic experienced an uncharacteristic drop in the cycle and actually allowed us to push the EOD for 2020 forward till August 22nd. On one hand, that sounds like great news. On the other, it took a pandemic for our growth rate to drop, and we still barely did better than when the project first launched. 2019 marked the fastest natural resource expenditure we have witnessed to date. Yet, as soon as the pandemic became more manageable, the numbers soared once again; placing us just three days ahead of 2019

Earth Overshoot Day also calculates each country’s individual date. This data is neatly compiled on this user-friendly map of the world, where you can look into your country’s consumption rate and compare it to other countries. If this article got you to wonder about your personal consumption rate, then you can take their test. The results might surprise you; and yet, despite EOD’s efforts to educate consumers about their global impact, the organisation insists on policy change and political involvement. They acknowledge that each individual has a footprint that makes a difference but that a major part of the footprint is a byproduct of the city (trains, roads, infrastructure, etc.). Effective change is systemic change. This brings us to 100 Days of Possibility

We are currently “using nature’s resources 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate”. That means that we are consuming our resources at a rate of 1¾ Earths. Clearly, such a lifestyle is unsustainable, as the Earth and its resources do not simply multiply to accommodate our growing needs. Combining two things that they believe in; using your voice to call for action and influencing policymakers, Earth Overshoot Day launched a new project. 100 Days of Possibility will be one hundred days (starting from EOD 2021 and leading up to the COP26) of education as EOD showcases “ways we can use existing technology to displace business as usual practices we can no longer afford”

The campaign addresses all various areas where we can improve our lifestyles for the better. This includes aspects of our cities, energy and food production and consumption, population issues, as well as other aspects of life. The team behind Earth Overshoot Day campaigns with #MoveTheDate. This was a smart move as it is to the point, yet still vague enough for those of us who do not know what it is to be intrigued by it. The hashtag does not place blame but rather calls everyone to action. Guilt is a powerful emotion but it is not the one that drives the most change. More often than not, guilt leads to shame and inaction. That is why a collective call to action is the best way to go. 

The COP26 wants to unite “the world to tackle climate change” and to “accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”. The host city is Glasgow; the UK is committed to working together with the other countries and tackling the issue with the help of various industries. The four goals that the COP26 outlined for itself are as follows:

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  3. Mobilise finance
  4. Work together to deliver

The 100 Days of Possibility initiative is a great way to link the Earth Overshoot Day and the COP26. The value of collaborations and collective approach towards this global issue can not be emphasised enough. Let us work together to #MoveTheDate.

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