Ever wondered when Earth will really run out of run out of resources? Well, today is the day.
July 29 is Earth Overshoot Day, the day that humanity has used up all the natural resources that the planet can replace in a year. So every single resource we use between now and January 1st next year is more than Earth can cope with.
In the same week as temperature records are being smashed all around the Northern Hemisphere, there’s another grim record that this year’s Earth Overshoot Day is breaking: tied first as the earliest the day has ever fallen. The only other year in human history that we’ve used an entire year’s worth of natural resources this quickly was 2018.
It’s not just an estimated date either. A bunch of scientists from the Global Footprint Network, who are far smarter than I will ever be, have done the math. They work out the planet’s total amount of resources for a year, divide it by the rate at which we consume those resources, and multiply it all by 365, to get Earth Overshoot Day.
They also do the same equation for individual countries, and fun fact, here in Australia we used up our year’s worth of resources on March 31st this year. Qatar overshot first on February 11th, and Indonesia is projected to overshoot last, on December 18th.
We all know that humans are trashing the planet, and it gets pretty overwhelming to sit back and think about the way the future is going to look for us and our kids. While other statistics used to measure climate change – like parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, or levels of ozone depletion – can be hard to understand in concrete terms, the knowledge that every roll of toilet paper we use after today is one that planet can’t replace is very clear.
The good news is that the same team of very smart people who worked out the math of Overshoot Day are also working on the #MoveTheDate campaign. There are tips on everything from taking on food waste, to how to travel the world in a more eco-friendly way, to how to streamline your wardrobe to tackle fast fashion, and even how to contact your city leader about their environmental policies.
Even if you aren’t in a position to use all of their suggestions, they encourage you to post selfies with the #MoveTheDate hashtag, or sign their online petition. Anything counts, and the tagline at the bottom of every page is: “We are counting all the steps taken to #MoveTheDate. More steps mean more impact.”
It’s very easy to fall into despair when thinking about what climate change and environmental destruction is doing to our future – I know I’ve certainly struggled with it. But people are working around the clock to make our world a better place, and it’s not too late to save us from ourselves just yet. Back in 1970, Overshoot Day didn’t fall until December 29th, so I promise you it is actually possible to live within our means. It’s going to take some changes, sure, but surely our planet is worth it.