Do you know just like you calculate your household budget, there is someone calculating Earths budget? Yes, you heard that RIGHT! Planet Earth has a budget and we humans have more often than not busted Earth’s budget. Now campaigners are not just trying to reduce humanity’s ecological footprint but since 2019 are making a conscious effort to build a momentum #MoveTheDate of the Overshoot Day. This ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is the day on which human demand and consumption for ecological resources exceeds the amount nature can regenerate in a given year. 2020, the coronavirus lead to record fall in consumption of Earth’s resources delaying the Earth Overshoot Day.

Coronavirus effect

To include the impact from the coronavirus pandemic this year, Global Footprint Network the international think tank promoting sustainable policy decisions evaluated and assessed humanity’s 2020 resource situation.

Their research team concluded that as compared to the same period last year, due to the worldwide lockdown, there has been a 9.3% reduction in the global Ecological Footprint.

As per the report,

– Carbon Footprint reduced 14.5% from 2019

– Forest Product Footprint reduced 8.4% from 2019

The result of all data extrapolations and analysed factors concluded that Earth Overshoot Day 2020 landed on August 22 in comparison with 2019, when it fell on July 29th.

How the Date is calculated

To calculate the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network uses the formula:

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

Here it divides the planet’s bio capacity that is the amount of ecological resources planet Earth is able to generate in the course of that year, by humanity’s Ecological Footprint or humanity’s demand in that year, and then multiplies it by 365, the number of days in the year.

Once the date is derived that is actually Earth’s bio capacity to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to sheer magnitude of the ecological overshoot.

The factors that lead to earth’s overshoot are:

  • World population
  • Nature’s ability to produce food
  • Total consumption by the population
  • Transport and carbon emissions
  • Deforestation
  • Power generation
  • Inefficiency in manufacturing products
Image credits: OvershootDay

5 years and 5 nations

The last 5 years

With 7.8 billion people residing on planet Earth, year after year, the Earth Overshoot Day has been coming earlier than the previous years’. It was first calculated in 1970, by the Global Footprint Network using UN statistics along with the National Footprint of more than 200 countries, territories and regions and Biocapacity Accounts based on approximately 15,000 data points per country per year.

Except in 2008 and 2009 when Earth Overshoot Day appeared mid-August i.e. on August 14 and August 18 respectively, in most recent years it has seemingly being creeping up from a week to fortnight forward.

Here are the dates over the last few years: –

  • July 29, 2019
  • Aug 01, 2018
  • Aug 02, 2017
  • Aug 08, 2016
  • Aug 13, 2015

2020 has been a record year with Earth Overshoot Day on August 22. This is the result of improved historical data and new findings such as lower net carbon sequestration by forests provided by additional data from the Global Carbon Project.

The Worse 5 nations

The worst five offending nations in 2020 are: –

  • Qatar February 11
  • Luxemburg February 16
  • United Arab Emirates March 7
  • Kuwait March 10
  • United States of America March 14

At the other end of the spectrum are countries like Kyrgyzstan, which isn’t expected to overshoot until December 26, Indonesia December 18, and Ecuador December 14.

Going Forward

Though this year the overshoot date has been delayed as per the Global Footprint Network, at the rate at which our consumption is increasing, humanity will still require 1.6 planets to sustain itself. Global Footprint Network CEO, Laurel Hanscom says “This year’s sudden ecological footprint contraction cannot be mistaken for progress. This year more than ever, Earth Overshoot Day highlights the need for strategies that increase resilience for all.”

If each of us can take steps like population control, nurture nature, travel with eco-sensibility, increase plant-based diet, commute carbon free and streamline our wardrobe, we will contribute greatly to reducing our personal footprint that contributes to global overshoot.

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