What is Earth Overshoot Day?
If you are a responsible citizen and a nature lover you should know what Earth Overshoot Day is.
In this article, we will explain to you, all about Earth Overshoot Day. Also, we will tell you what you can do at your level to save the earth.
Earth Overshoot Day:
Our earth gifts us various things throughout the year we need to live our lives. Like water, green vegetables, fruits, flowers, grains, fish, animals, etc.
If we use these things wisely, then our year-long work can be done by them. But unfortunately, we use the invaluable gift presented by nature very carelessly.
Consequently, we finish the resources of our share much before the end of the year.
The particular day of the year, on which we have entirely consumed all the resources of our share, is called our Earth Overshoot Day.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated for each country individually on an annual basis.
Finally, on the basis of the EOD of all the countries, an average EOD of the whole world is determined.
Any organization generates income from various resources and makes expenditures on different items. If the expenditure of that organization exceeds its income, then it is called a deficit.
As the record of income and expenditure are maintained by the organizations, in the same way, the record of incomes and expenditures of natural resources is also maintained.
The idea of keeping such a record was first put by the famous economist from the United Kingdom, Andrew Simms.
This idea of Andrew Simms became the base of the concept of EOD.
The EOD has been calculated, since the year 1986. We can understand it by the following graph.
The above graph shows that the Earth Overshoot Day has been shifting backward every year.
It means that all over the world biocapacity has been decreasing and the consumption of natural resources has been increasing every year.
According to estimates, by the year 2030, EOD may slip to 30th June. In that situation, we will need two planets like earth to satisfy our requirements for one year.
Celebrating Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) does not mean to do any celebration, but it is to alert the world about the alarming condition of the environment.
In the year 2018, EOD occurred on 1st August, and in the year 2019, it was on July 29.
From the above data, we reach the following conclusions:
We had consumed the natural resources in just 7 months instead of 12 months. In the remaining next 5 months, we had exploited the earth.
Earth breathed a sigh of relief in 2020:
Unfortunately, in 2020 most of the countries of the world were compelled to observe lockdown for some time due to the COVID-19.
Although the lockdown was imposed by the countries only for a short period, it brought great relief to the earth. Lockdown brought us to near nature.
Consequently, in 2020 the EOD shifted forward for 3 weeks. Compared to July 29 of 2019, it was on August 22 of 2020.
Earth Overshoot Day 2021:
In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day happened on 29th July.
In the year 2020, most parts of the world were locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to which the rate of carbon emissions remained very low.
As a result of this, the earth overshoot day was 22 August in the year 2020. This was considered to be much better than the EOD falling on 29 July of the year 2019.
But as soon as the lockdown was removed, the world started again as before. And, this year i.e. in 2021, Earth Overshoot Day happened on July 29, just like in the year 2019.
Thus, the success we had achieved in pushing back the EOD in the year 2020, we lost in 2021 itself. This is not good from the point of view of environmental protection.
According to the Global Footprint Network, humanity has exhausted the biological resources that our planet can generate in a year, only by 29 July.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) says in a statement,
“Humanity currently uses 74 percent more than what the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate — or 1.7 Earths. From Earth Overshoot Day until the end of the year, humanity operates on ecological deficit spending.”
The statement also adds, according to accounting to the National Footprint & Biocapacity Accounts based on UN datasets, since the early 1970s when the world began to account for ecological spending, this year’s spending will be counted among some of the larger spending years.
Amazon’s forest fire was also a reason:
It is really intimidating to be back on 29th July as compared to 22nd August of last year. But behind this year, the fire in the rainforests of Amazon is also believed to be responsible.
Actually this year, during the summer season, there was a fire in the rainforests of Amazon, due to which about 0.5 part of it was destroyed.
This has caused considerable damage to biological resources.
What can we learn from Lockdown?
Lockdown was a compulsion, not a solution. But it was proved to be helpful for nature.
Due to this, the carbon emission was very low and the biocapacity of the earth increased. Actually, the balance of biocapacity and carbon emission is very important for environmental protection.
Let us briefly understand these two terms.
In easy words, we can understand biocapacity as under:
- The ability of the Ecosystem to produce useful biological materials such as trees, plants, fruits, flowers, crops, water, animals, fish, etc.
- The ability to absorb and filter waste materials.
It depends on many things, such as the area of agricultural land, forest area, sea area, rivers, and ponds, etc.
We can understand carbon footprint, as under:
It is the amount of Carbon dioxide emitted by us.
We need the energy to do every work, due to this, we continuously release the Carbon dioxide gas which plays the most important role in warming the earth.
Global warming is caused due to greenhouse gases. In greenhouse gases, Carbon dioxide is present with a maximum share of 60%.
On a personal level, and on a national level, we release carbon dioxide continuously.
We release carbon in different ways throughout our lifespan. The amount of carbon dioxide released by us is called our Carbon footprint.
Reasons for increasing carbon footprint:
The carbon footprint has been constantly increasing due to the following factors.
The industries, electrical equipment, and vehicles, etc have been continuously making emissions of carbon dioxide.
On the other hand, the trees that absorb the carbon dioxide are being ruthlessly destroyed in the name of development.
The Carbon footprint of every country is different.
The developed countries have a higher rate of carbon emissions compared to the developing countries.
The irresponsible approach of developed countries:
The developed countries exploit nature brutally at a very fast rate, due to which, other countries, especially the developing ones are affected.
Let us compare the USA and India. Both are democratic countries but there is a great difference between them with various aspects.
The USA is a developed country while India is a developing one.
There is also a major difference between the populations of both of these countries.
The population of the USA is approximately 350 Million, while India’s population is nearly 1.35 Billion i.e. India’s population is four times more than the USA.
But if we compare the consumption of natural resources by both the countries, then India needs only 0.7 Earth (less than 1) for one year, while the USA needs 5 Earth for a year.
According to this calculation, the citizens of the United States of America consume the resources 28 times more than the citizens of India.
It proves that the developed countries are very careless in using natural resources compared to the developing countries.
How is Earth Overshoot Day calculated?
As we have seen above, biocapacity and carbon emissions play the main role in the determination of the EOD of a country.
The calculation of the EOD of any country is based on its Carbon footprint divided by its biocapacity.
For example, we take Switzerland.
As per reports of 2016, the Carbon footprint of Switzerland was 4.64 gha (Global Hectare) per person while the global biocapacity was 1.63 gha per person.
First, we calculate how much earth Switzerland requires.
It means that in 2016, Switzerland needed 2.8 earth to fulfill the needs of its citizens for a year.
Now we calculate the overshoot day of Switzerland (in 2016):
365 x (1.63/4.64) = 128
It means that in 2016 the 128th day (9th May) of the year, was the overshoot day of Switzerland. In the present year 2021 too, its EOD was the 11th of May.
How to reduce the ecological deficit?
As to reduce the financial deficit we pay attention to increase our incomes and reduce expenses.
In the same way, to reduce the ecological deficit, it is necessary to increase the Biocapacity and reduce Carbon emissions.
How to increase Biocapacity?
Each country should take the following measures to increase its Biocapacity: –
- Increase Green Region.
- Protect water resources like rivers, ponds, etc.
- Make all necessary arrangements to decrease pollution.
- Generate less waste and pay attention to waste management.
- Promote vegetarianism and decrease dependence on animals, fish, and other seafood.
Vegetarianism may help to save the environment:
According to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, by Professor Eric Davidson of Maryland University, if the environment has to be saved, the developed nations will have to reduce the consumption of non-veg food by at least up to 50 percent by 2050.
How vegetarianism is helpful to the environment:
Animal husbandry is done all over the world to supply non-veg food to fulfill the need for non-vegetarians. For raising these animals, agricultural products are required in very large quantities. For example, a chicken needs 3 kg of grain to attain 1 kg of weight.
Out of the total agricultural area worldwide, approximately, 68% of the land is cultivated for those animals which are grown for the supply of meat.
If the consumption of meat is reduced, then there will be a reduction in animal husbandry.
Thus, a large area of land will become free from agriculture. This will lower the pressure on agriculture. It will save a lot of water also.
It is noteworthy that out of the total drinkable water on the earth, 70% is used in agriculture alone.
Thus, decreasing the consumption of non-veg food and promoting vegetarianism may be significantly effective in the conservation of the environment.
How to reduce Carbon Footprint:
Each country should take the following measures to decrease its Carbon Footprint:
- Population control.
- Pollution control.
- Ban single-use plastic.
What can we do on our own level to save the Earth?
It is the duty of all of us to save the earth. For this we can take following steps at our own level:
- Promote greenery in the house.
- Use indoor plants.
- Save water, discourage the use of running water.
- Promote vegetarianism.
- Save fuel.
- Generate less waste.
- Say goodbye to single-use plastic.
Calculate your own Earth Overshoot Day
Global Footprint Network has presented a Q&A by which you can calculate your own EOD.
This Q&A also helps you to know what kind of lifestyle you should adopt so that your year-round needs can be met from one earth.
Suppose that if all the people of the world adopt the same lifestyle as you, then how many Earths would they need?
Our earth can fulfill our needs but not our greed. It is clear from the diagram given above that some of the rich countries of the world like the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. consume their share of resources in the first quarter of the year itself.
This is ruthless behavior with the Earth. This is not only an injustice to the Earth but also to other countries of the world because this causes global warming.
The earth nurtures us, so we should also treat her affectionately.