Announced today, World Environment Day, this year’s Earth Overshoot Day is going to be 29 July. It’s the day our resource consumption for the year has exceeded the earth’s capacity to regenerate enough to supply our demand, and it gets earlier each year – in 2018 it was 1 August; in 1997 it was 30 September; in 1977 it was 12 November. At this rate, it is projected the day will be in June by 2030.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by international think tank Global Footprint Network, who divide the world’s biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by the earth that year) by our ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of the earth’s natural resources for that year) and multiply by 365. The message is clear. We use more resources than nature can regenerate through overfishing, over harvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can absorb.
This is the date for the whole planet, but note that not all countries will have an overshoot day. A country will only have an overshoot day if their own ecological footprint per person is greater than global biocapacity (1.63 gha).
It’s time to wake up and take action NOW so we can try to move the date and safeguard ourselves if we can’t. As Sir David Attenborough said in a TIME magazine feature ahead of his spectacular Our Planet series on Netflix, ‘The question is, are we going to be in time, and are we going to do enough? The answer to both of those is no.’
Travellers have a big part to play in making a difference, as Alessandro Galli, Director of the Mediterranean Region for the Global Footprint Network, told NOW. ‘The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other. And tourism provides a great opportunity to experiment with ways of living that are aligned with the one-planet reality we live in.’
Like NOW, the Global Footprint Network campaigns throughout the year to urge people to make wiser choices to help #MoveTheDate in different ways – check out their ongoing solutions.
This year, they have taken things one step further by helping the MEET Network design a clutch of 3 to 7 night ecotourism packages in six Mediterranean countries, in the hope that this will inspire networks around the world to do the same.
Having checked the footprint of each involved service provider and worked to lower it, we are confident we will soon bring to the market real ecotourism products with a minimal footprint on the environment,’ says Galli.
The packages highlight what every travel company and place to stay should be focusing on for the sake of our future. Small-scale, family-run, local and traditional accommodation, preferably with alternative sources of energy in place; food that’s sourced locally or regionally, that’s light and balanced rather than over bountiful and heavy, and that uses vegetables and cereals, non-endangered fish-based products, and non-intensive meat based-products; and a focus on slow travel, with bikes, kayaks, walking, horses and public transport favoured over cars, and the encouragement of motor-free activities to enable guests to slow down and connect to the natural area they are visiting.
So how can we as travellers also help #MoveTheDate? Alexa Poortier, founder of NOW, says: ‘How we walk is more important than how we talk. Be informed and determine your impact by calculating your Ecological Footprint and personal Overshoot Day with the Global Footprint Calculator.’ Be a part of the solution to our climate crisis. If you choose to fly to your destination, calculate your carbon footprint and offset your carbon emissions. Use the power of your wallet to only support tourism companies and places to stay that seriously commit to sustainability with accountability and transparency. Be empowered to act NOW.’
And what if Earth Overshoot Day arrives in June by 2030? It will be even more important to have made real changes to our lifestyles. Take a look at NOW’s 10 tips for travellers overwhelmed by Climate Change, NOW’s 15 genuine ways to help change the world, and NOW’s Tough questions to ask hotels before you book. Find out more about Earth Overshoot Day at www.overshootday.org.
Action message from NOW
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