Every year we commemorate a number of holidays, celebrating either a person, a historical event or even the planet itself. Celebrations like Earth Day or Arbor Day are quite well known, but one day gets overlooked time and time again. Well this is maybe because the date changes every year.
This day is known as Earth Overshoot Day and this year it fell on August 13th. For those of us who don’t know what this day stands for, let me explain. On Earth Overshoot Day, we humans “celebrate’ the day when we surpassed the sustainable limit of resources for the year. Not even eight full months in and we are now consuming more than the planet can produce in a viable way.
This is the earliest on record that we had Earth Overshoot Day, since last year in 2014, we celebrated it on August 19th. We were able to move it up by 6 days in just one year. At the beginning of this century, no more than 14 years ago, this “ecological debt” began in early October, but has since moved closer and closer to summer.
In order to calculate when this date falls each year, the Global Footprint Network tracks the total human resource consumption which is then divided by the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year. The result is then multiplied by 365 -which are the total number of days per year- and you have the day in which we surpass the amount of resources our planet is able to provide us in a sustainable fashion.
It is true that many of us don’t fell the effects of this since many developed countries usually have a surplus of materials and goods at hand. China and the United States for example use a disproportionately amount of resources while over one billion of world’s population is starving. But even if we were to somehow balance this spread of resources, at the current rate and ever increasing population, we would need 1.6 Earths to sustain ourselves.
One, very under the radar, culprit for this huge demand of resources is the meat industry. Cattle worldwide produce about half of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, use up to 40% of all arable land and are the main cause for global deforestation – for grazing land, not for wood -. It is estimated that a dairy farm of about 1500 cows produce as much pollution as a 400,000 people city. So one great solution for moving Earth Overshoot Day later in the year is to cut meat consumption from our diet as much as possible, if not altogether.
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