July 30, 2019

29 July was Earth Overshoot Day | We’re living beyond our means

Global Earth Overshoot Day was July 29 this year, the earliest ever to be calculated.

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

This date marks when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in that year. And over just the past 20 years, the date moved forward three months to July 29. It’s the earliest ever to be calculated.

Overshoot is a blunt reminder that we are consistently depleting our natural capital, compromising the planet’s future. It means globally, humanity is currently using natural resources 1.75x faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. That’s equivalent to using 1.75 Earths this year. 

We don’t have 1.75 Earths, we only have one. We’re living beyond our means until December 31st. 

Why does it matter?

Healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems such as oceans and forests are indispensable to keep our planet livable by regulating the climate and absorbing carbon emissions. But from rapid deforestation to intensive food systems, we are using resources unsustainably and forcing more carbon into the atmosphere than can be naturally sequestered.

Overshoot Day highlights the huge disparity between the exploitation of Earth’s resources and the social, environmental and economic impacts faced by people as a result. 

An individual country’s overshoot day is the date on which Earth Overshoot Day1 falls if all of humanity consumed resources like the people in this country. In 2019, Papua New Guinea’s overshoot day falls on December 7. Compared to the UK, this is nearly a whole 7 months earlier. 

But despite their minimal ecological impact, rainforest and coastal communities in Papua New Guinea are already seeing the detrimental impacts of sea-level rise and increased extreme weather events from climate change.

“The rainforest’s stability is an insurance for my life irrespective of where I live on the planet. That is why supporting Cool Earth is such an important climate action.”

-Professor Dr. Johan Röckstrom – Co-author of the “Hothouse Earth” theory

What can we do?

Home to our greatest natural carbon store and potential to have the greatest climate impact, rainforest communities need support to develop in a sustainable manner. The whole world relies on us helping them to keep their trees standing. If we don’t, the ecological impact will take its toll even further on Earth. And we will have little opportunity to #MoveTheDate back.

Despite covering only 3% of Earth’s surface, rainforest is our life support system, keeping the world’s climate in balance. Protecting rainforest is the most important action we can take to support people, sequester carbon, and preserve wildlife. 

Whether it’s protecting rainforest, switching to renewable energy or eating less meat, we need to start living by the ration book the world’s given us. 

We cannot live in our overdraft any more. You can help Cool Earth to mitigate emissions from deforestation.

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