This article was published on the 4th of May, 2022. For most articles this information is only a footnote, but in this particular case it’s vitally important. Today is Earth Overshoot Day in Germany! Sadly, this day isn’t something to celebrate (just yet). We will dive into why the date was created, what’s so special about it and how it’s calculated.
The first thing we need to discuss about the Earth Overshoot Day is its date. Or the lack thereof. It differs from country to country and it changes every year. However, you can make a difference!
Now, why does this day even exist? To make it easier to understand that ecological changes need to be made. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s simple life choices that add up.
A small thought experiment
So, let‘s say, you have a bucket of water in your backyard. For this thought experiment we will pretend the guys from bills plumbing did a fantastic job and it it holds 100 l without any losses.
You use it to water your lawn, fill up the kids super soaker, or spray at the cat from Greg next door. Let‘s say you need about 1378 l in total per year. That’s your footprint.
On the other hand, we have biocapacity. In our case, that is rain. Since we‘re looking at the footprint per year, we‘ll assume that the biocapacity is the same each week.
With our non-patended rain optimized obtaining facility (r.o.o.f.) we are able to capture 468 l per year. In our example we have a net deficit. 468 – 1378 = -910 l per year. Now let‘s calculate our very own freedom day:
468 (Biocapacity) / 1378 (Footprint) * 365 (days in a year) = 124 (th day of the year)
Converting the day to a date gives us the 4th of May.
Why is it important to have a date?
After that day, all the water we are consuming is not renewable. With our 100 l water tank we would run fully out of water after just one generation.
If you want to learn more about how the date is calculated, you can visit the official Earth Overshoot Day website.
But sadly, we have an international downward facing trend. Starting from 1970, the overt overshoot day has been earlier and earlier in the year.
For everyone interested, here’s an interactive map for you to check out. It can display the ecological deficit/reserve, total footprint, footprint per person, biocapacity, bio capacity per person for every country.
For example, Germany‘s overshoot day is also the 4th of May, 2022. All used resources after the given date are not accounted for.
There is no “one-stop” solution. Different countries face different challenges. When the economy is based on non-renewable resources it’s difficult for a country to generate a net positive footprint.
On a personal note: I think it‘s an awesome way to make saving the environment and our biocapacity visible to everyone. Reading the newest IPCC report might be fun for some, 3675 pages is a long read though.
What you can do
First of all, I would suggest that you try out the footprintcalculator. It gives everyone the chance to see how much impact they have. I can tell you first hand that I was astonished how much for instance my driving was impacting the environment.
Every little change in behavior helps. Just do your part – step by step. Even small steps have an impact. Do you shower or take a bath? Showering uses 5 l per minute, taking a whole bath 80 l in total. So maybe just hop in and out in the morning instead of having a bath?
And you can always support your local charity or get the guys at globalfootprintnetwork a coffee here.
CCW (2021): Company Performance Data Appendices
Footprintnetwork (2021): Earth Overshoot Days 1970 – 2021
Foto: © scarce.org