Earth Overshoot Day 2022 falls on the 28th July. Let’s take a look at what Earth Overshoot Day is and what it means for our planet.
What is Earth Overshoot Day 2022?
Earth Overshoot Day is the day when human demand for natural resources exceeds what the planet can generate in a year. After this day we are using resources at a rate that is unsustainable. It is calculated each year by the Global Footprint Network by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources the Earth is able to generate that year) by humanity’s ecological footprint (humanity’s demand for that year) and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year.
Earth Overshoot Day has been occurring earlier each year, with a brief exception during the pandemic. This shows humanity’s use of the world’s resources is becoming increasingly unsustainable. Today we would need 1.75 Earths to support our current needs.
Is Earth Overshoot Day The Same For All Countries?
A country’s overshoot day is the day in which overshoot day would fall if all of humanity consumed the same way as the people in that country. We can determine a country’s overshoot day using data from the latest National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. It is important to note that some countries do not have an overshoot day if their ecological footprint per person is less than global biocapacity per person (1.6 gha). These countries are listed as ‘none’ in the diagram below.
In recent years campaigns have been started to encourage people to take action to help #MoveTheDate and create a more sustainable future for all life on Earth.
Action We Can Take To #MoveTheDate
Despite Earth Overshoot Day happening sooner each year, there are things we can do to help move the date.
1. Use Renewable Energy
60% of humanity’s ecological footprint is made up of carbon. 150 years ago humanity’s footprint was close to 0. We need to phase out fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy sources to reach net zero carbon by 2050. Reducing the carbon part of humanity’s ecological footprint by 50% would move earth overshoot day by 3 months.
2. Eat A More Plant Based Diet
Reducing our intake of meat, particularly beef and dairy will significantly reduce our ecological footprint. In fact, if we reduced global meat consumption by 50% and replaced these calories through a vegetarian diet, we would move overshoot day by 17 days.
3. Reduce Waste
“There is no such thing as away. When you throw something away it must go somewhere”. – Annie Leonard
We live in a largely linear economy where we are encouraged to ‘take, make, waste’. If we can begin to transition to a more Circular Economy where products are kept in use for longer, we can cut out a whole chain of unnecessary environmental harm.
Globally a third of all food is wasted. If we cut food waste in half we can move overshoot day by 13 days.
From a business perspective think about tracking and reducing the waste you produce. Consider packing your products in Reusable or Second Hand Packaging. Reusing just 1 tonne of cardboard boxes (that’s around 6 pallets) saves 5 trees and half a tonne of carbon.
4. Help restore and protect biodiversity
Our economies are limited by the Earth’s biocapacities due to huge overuse of the planet’s biological resources. Whole ecosystems have been overused and must be restored. Reforestation of the world’s tropical forests and mangroves increases biodiversity and carbon sequestration while acting as flood barriers for coastal urban areas.
Reforesting 350 million hectares of forest would move earth overshoot day by 8 days.
Earth overshoot day 2022 shows that we need to drastically reduce our ecological footprint. Currently we would need 1.75 planet Earths to sustain our demand for natural resources. But the good news is we can reduce our ecological footprint by making some small changes which, collectively, will have a huge impact. If we embrace some of these changes and move the overshoot day by just 6 days each year, we can be out of overshoot before 2050. This will have huge benefits for all life on Earth.