Our planet is rare. It is currently the only planet we are aware of, out of the billions of planets out there, capable of supporting life. Earth has supported life for millions of years, but only in the last 50 years or so has human demand been so great it has exceeded the ability of the planet to replenish itself.
The damage we see to the planet, including things like global warming, deforestation, and oceans stripped of fish are all examples of a planet out of balance. When we outstrip nature’s ability to support us, the term is called, “Overshoot.”
Earth Overshoot Day is the day when we outstrip natures resources. In 2021, that date was July 29th. In 2020 when the pandemic caused much of our economy to lock down, that date was pushed almost a month forward to August 22nd.
As anyone who lived through the pandemic knows, misery and suffering is no sustainable way to live either. In order for humans to live on the planet sustainably, change needs to be done intentionally, not through disasters.
Moving the Date
The goal of Earth Overshoot Day is to highlight how much we are taking from nature, and to illustrate ways we can work toward a sustainable future. #MoveTheDate means pushing the date forward, so that ideally we never overshoot at all.
The website for the Earth Overshoot Day campaign also features a calculator to show how many Earth’s we would need if everyone lived like you. (Hint: You can’t live within your means no matter what, because you’re also responsible for a portion of the government’s outsized footprint as well.)
How to help
Living within the planet’s ability to sustain you means first and foremost challenging the government and business to do better. There is plenty we can do on both an individual and national level to help move the date forward.
Eating less meat, driving less, improving energy efficiency, and eating local organic foods are individual actions you can take to help. On a national level, governments can help through greener infrastructure, especially making it easier to use bicycles and other carbon-free vehicles to get around a city.
If electricity was decarbonized and current buildings retrofitted to be as energy efficient as possible, it would push back Earth Overshoot day by an incredible 21 days. If everyone on Earth cut their meat consumption in half, that would push the date back by another 17 days.
The only way for this to happen is for everyone who cares about the environment to make a change, speak up, and stand up for the world we call home.