Balancing the household budget can be difficult. Do you have a debt? The Earth does.
Humans have driven the Earth into debt because our consumption of the planet’s resources exceeds the capacity of the Earth to reproduce those resources. We can calculate both the human consumption rate and the Earth’s regeneration rate.
Earth Overshoot Day is the date each year when we have used what the Earth takes a year to produce. This was first calculated in 1970 when the date determined was 30 December, so the planet was then in balance. Since then, it has moved progressively forward.
Earth Overshoot Day in 2020 improved by 26 days to 22 August. This initial drop in resource use in the first half of that year was due to coronavirus-induced lockdowns. All other years show a constant rate of resource use throughout the year. We moved the date in the right direction last year, but as industry recovered it leaped forward again to 29 July this year.
The above considers the global figures; however, The Global Footprint Network also calculates the date for individual countries. That is, what would the date be if the whole world had the same level of consumption as that country? The recent dates for Australia are 22 March 2021, 30 March 2020 and 31 March 2019, so even when the world improved during 2020’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Australia continued getting worse without a break.
How do we #MoveTheDate back without being forced to by a pandemic? There are effective and affordable solutions. We can accelerate their implementation by sharing knowledge of what works and bringing people together.
Let us consider the following five main areas:
- Planet – How we help nature thrive.
- Cities – How we design and manage cities.
- Energy – How we power ourselves.
- Food – How we feed ourselves.
- Population – How many of us there are.
Fertile soil, clean water, and clean air are necessary to provide humanity with the food and physical health we require to thrive. Healthy ecosystems, such as oceans and forests, are indispensable to keep our planet liveable by regulating the climate. They also help keep humans psychologically and spiritually grounded.
Between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of all people are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. Consequently, smart city planning and urban development strategies can reduce the human demand for resources. Examples include energy-efficient buildings, integrated zoning, compact cities, and effective options for people-powered and public transportation.
The carbon footprint is 57 per cent of humanity’s ecological impact. Not only is investing in clean energy our best possible chance to address damage to the climate, but it would also vastly improve the balance between our ecological impact and the planet’s renewable resources. Reducing the carbon component of humanity’s impact by 50 per cent would move Earth Overshoot Day by 93 days. According to an analysis by researchers from Global Footprint Network and Schneider Electric, existing off-the-shelf, commercial technologies for buildings, industrial processes, and electricity production could move Earth Overshoot Day at least 21 days, without any loss in productivity or comfort.
Choosing locally produced and in-season food can reduce your personal impact on the environment. If food waste was halved worldwide, we would move Earth Overshoot Day 13 days.
If half the families had one less child and motherhood was postponed by two years, by 2050 we would move Earth Overshoot Day 49 days.
We need to think about what changes we can make and talk with family members and friends. If we all considered what personal choices we can make in the above areas, we can make a positive difference and help bring the Earth back into balance.
Subscribe to the Angligreen e-newsletter for news and tips. Angligreen endorses Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), which offers a range of workshops through the Living the Change project. Workshops are available online or can be arranged in your community.
For more information, email AngligreenACSQ@gmail.com
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