Earth Overload Day – since August 2, we have been living on credit

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Currently, our planet is inhabited by nearly 8 billion people. Unfortunately, the rate at which resources are being consumed far exceeds the Earth’s regenerative capacity, and the amount of waste we produce exceeds its ability to absorb it. Hence the initiative called Earth Overload Day – to make us aware of how much we are burdening our globe. Humanity is depleting resources faster and faster every year, and Earth Overload Day has become an alarmingly high indicator of our consumption. But what exactly does this mean and what are the consequences of our actions?

What is Earth Overload Day?

Earth Overshoot Day, also known as Earth Overshoot Day, is the date on which humanity has used up the last resources that our planet can naturally renew in a year. In 2023. It fell on Aug. 2, which means that in just seven months we have used up the resources available for the whole year and entered the so-called “year-end”. “environmental debt” for the next 151 days. It is disturbing that in the last 30 years the date has moved from December to August.

Earth Overload Day is not just a date on the calendar, but more importantly a wake-up call for all of us. It shows how quickly we are consuming available resources and how important it is that we begin to operate in a more sustainable way. Each of us has a say in how quickly we deplete the Earth’s resources, so everyone can contribute to delaying this date.

How is Earth Overload Day calculated?

Overshoot Day is calculated based on data provided by the UN. They help determine two key indicators: “biological capacity” of the planet and the ecological footprint of each country. Biocapacity, or biological capacity, refers to our planet’s ability to regenerate renewable resources and absorb waste. In practice, this means how much raw materials the Earth can provide us with and how much waste it can recycle without negatively impacting the environment. Ecological footprint, on the other hand, is a measure that shows how much humanity needs from nature. It takes into account the consumption of resources such as water, soil and air, as well as emissions of pollutants.

With these two indicators, we can determine exactly when humanity exceeds the planet’s regenerative capacity. Earth Overload Day is calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity by its ecological footprint and multiplying times 365 days. Importantly, ecological footprint and biocapacity metrics are calculated every year, and the data is updated based on the latest UN statistics. All information since 1961. are regularly recalculated to ensure consistency with the latest data and science.

Which countries consume the most resources?

Not all countries consume resources at the same rate. Developed countries such as the U.S., Belgium and France have much earlier Earth Overload Day compared to developing countries. If everyone in the world lived like the people of the United States, globally this day would have already fallen on March 13. For Belgium, that would be March 26, and for Spain, May 12. According to Eurostat data, Poles are consuming resources at a rate close to the EU average.

This year our national green debt day has already fallen on May 2, which means we are using up resources faster than many other countries. In May, resources also “run out” for Germany, France or Japan. However, Qatar and Luxembourg have emerged as the main culprits for exceeding green limits this year. For Qatar, Overshoot Day already fell on February 10, while for Luxembourg it fell on February 14.

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Source: National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2023

How can we delay Earth Overload Day?

  1. Investments in low-carbon energy sources

According to the Global Footprint Network, increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources from 39% to 75% would have the potential to shift Earth Overload Day by 26 days. This shows the importance of investing in clean technologies and moving away from fossil fuels.

  • Reduce the amount of wasted food

Food waste is a huge problem around the world. If we could halve the amount, it would move the date by an additional 13 days.

  • Afforestation and environmental protection

The reforestation of 350 million hectares of land would have the potential to postpone Earth Overload Day by another eight days. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and play a key role in climate regulation.

  • Building fifteen-minute cities

The concept of a 15-minute city, where all daily needs are available within a 15-minute walk or bike ride, could push the date back 11 days. This approach promotes healthier lifestyles and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Encouraging green transportation

If1/3 of all car miles traveled were replaced by public transportation, walking or cycling, Earth Overload Day would fall 13 days later.

The solutions outlined above show that we have many tools and strategies that can help delay Earth Overload Day. From individual purchasing decisions to local initiatives to global strategies, every step matters. A great example is the city of Lahti, which is a leader in sustainable development. By acting together, we can not only delay this date, but also secure a better future. Let’s remember that our planet is the only one, and taking care of it is our collective responsibility.

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