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Earth Overshoot Day 2020

Earth Overshoot Day 2020

For the first time in its recorded history, Earth Overshoot Day was delayed 3 weeks compared to 2019

Coronavirus-induced lockdowns caused the global Ecological Footprint to contract almost 10% year on year. This is great news, but we still use as many ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 Earths. 

What does Earth Overshoot mean?  Think about what you earn (or used to). Say you earn $50,000 a year. Problem is that you spend $$80,000. That's a problem and it's called Earth Overshoot in the case of the way we treat the planet's income. This year the planet's population had officially used all it's available resources by 20th August. In 2019, we had achieved that undistinguished level by July 29th. As a country, Australia hasn't fared as well, achieving global overshoot day by March 30th, compared to March 31 last year.

About Earth Overshoot Day 2020, the facts

The later global date of Earth Overshoot Day 2020 reflects the 9.3% reduction of humanity’s Ecological Footprint from January 1st to Earth Overshoot Day compared to the same period last year, which is a direct consequence of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns around the world. The major drivers behind the historic shift in the long-term growth of humanity’s Ecological Footprint were decreases in wood harvest and CO2 emissions, which resulted in reduction in forest products Footprint (8%) and carbon Footprint (14.5%).

Globally, humanity currently uses 60% more resources than what can be regenerated – or as much as if we lived on 1.6 planet Earths. From Earth Overshoot Day until the end of the year, humanity grows the ecological deficit which has been increasing most years since the world fell in ecological overshoot in the early 1970s.

The data is assessed by the National Footprint & Biocapacity Accounts (NFA) based on UN datasets (with 15,000 data points per country per year).

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated using the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts now maintained and updated by York University in Toronto and governed by the new Footprint Data Foundation.

Who reports Earth Overshoot Day and why?

Global Footprint Network is the group who report and support Earth Overshoot Day. It is an international sustainability organization that is helping the world live within the Earth’s means and respond to climate change. Since 2003 they have worked with government, policy makers, scientists and investors in more than 60 countries, 40 cities, and 70 global partners to deliver scientific insights that have driven high-impact policy and investment decisions.

As public health and economic recovery have emerged as dominant concerns globally, decision makers are called to act on the unprecedented current disruption to build a future where all thrive within the means of our planet (“one-planet prosperity”). Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom.


About Earth Overshoot Day measurement

Global overshoot started in the early 1970s. Now, the cumulative ecological debt is equivalent to 18 Earth years. In other words, it would take 18 years of our planet’s entire regeneration to reverse the damage from overuse of natural resources, assuming overuse was fully reversible. Solutions suggest that it is possible to live within the means of our planet.

If we #MoveTheDate 5 days each year, humanity would be using less than one planet before 2050.

How is Earth Overshoot Day Measured?

A number of factors are tracked, weighted and measured each year by a global team: 

  • Ecological Footprint
  • Biocapacity
  • Global Hectare (gha)
  • National Footprint Accounts
  • Carbon Footprint
  • Consumption
  • Conversion Factor
  • Ecological Deficit / Reserve
  • Land Type
  • Biocapacity Per Person (or Per Capita)
  • Biologically Productive Land and Water

Other Resources

Lesson plans for teachers, global interactive maps, loads of data and links to loads more are all available on Earth Overshoot Day website.

What can you do?

Everything and everyone counts. At a community level, share this information. If you are a teacher of any kind, an influencer or business leader, look at your constituents and tailor the information in ways they can understand. Earth Overshoot Day provide mountains of support and I am pretty sure if you needed something specific they would help. 

One simple, everyday thing every day people can do is FOOD. Don't waste it. Eat less meat. Grow food, even if it's just herbs and lettuce. Everything counts.

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