The Globe Has Overshot its Resources – Again
01 August 2018
Today (Wednesday 1st August 2018) is Earth Overshoot Day across the world. It is the date that marks when humanity consumes more from nature than the planet can renew in a year. Why is 2018 another significant year? Because it signifies another leap in the wrong direction.
Compared to 2017, we have moved the date by two days in the wrong direction – we have increased our burden on nature. Some could argue that two days doesn’t sound important, but just one day equates to huge amounts of resources that nature cannot cope with.
As shown in the graph below, the 1st August is the earliest date that Earth Overshoot Day has fallen on. We started to improve things in 2014, but this hasn’t continued. We also saw an improvement in 2019, but this could well be linked to the decreased levels of consumption due to the global financial crisis – not a long-term solution!
The Global Footprint Network have also been able to calculate the date Earth Overshoot Day would fall on if the global population used the same amount of resources per capita as the population of specific countries. This produces insight into which countries have the biggest impact on our planet. For example, if we all replicated the host of the next football World Cup, Qatar, this would result in Earth Overshoot Day falling on an eye watering 9th February.
edie state that “The Global Footprint Network, the research organisation tracking Earth Overshoot Day, predicts that Earth Overshoot Day will land halfway through the year – in June – by 2030, meaning it would require two entire Earths to sustain current consumption levels.” This is quite an alarming statistic, which should encourage change, now. But what can we do?
At the Society for the Environment we believe that by registering Chartered Environmentalists (CEnv) and Registered Environmental Technicians (REnvTech) and working to ensure that environmental decisions should only be made by those with a proven competence to do so, we are making a difference.
How do you ensure that a decision that has implications on the environment has been made by someone who knows what they are doing? How does your company make the best choice for the environment? Registered environmental professionals (CEnv and REnvTech) have been assessed against comprehensive competences and knowledge requirements for their discipline, making them ideal to stand on the front line of environmental decision making resulting in multiple environmental benefits across multiple sectors, globally.
edie has listed four key areas of focus to help "#MoveTheDate":
- Lower emissions through clean energy
- Retrofit the built environment
- Commit to tackling food waste
- Redefining and revaluing resources
Find out more about these key areas by visiting the edie website.
Expert Opinion - CEnv Views
"Harking back to the first few successful Greenpeace campaigns such as 'Think Global, act local', we need to emphasise to colleagues and companies that small changes add up. For example, why is the main working day 9-5? Travelling at those times of the day is inefficient, wastes fuel & time together with increasing stress." Says Rob Bradley CEnv.
Rob continues; "We need to become used to being productive outside of those rigid times, embracing the tech to do so whilst ensuring good life balance.
So, the message I send is that no matter how hard you think this kind of change would be, a wee bit of thought can enable yourself to lead by example. Because the alternative is literally catastrophic."
To add to this, Managing Director of onePlanet Solutions Limited, Andrew Marlow CEnv MIEMA, pulls out two facts from the Earth Overshoot website that put today into perceptive:
- Earth Overshoot Day has now moved a full four months earlier in just four decades
- Despite all our progress over the years, the UK’s country specific Overshoot Day is the 8th May.
Andrew states; “We, largely, have the tools to redress the ever earlier date. We need to express the vision to take leadership and to be clear in communicating the benefits. CEnv and REnvTech professionals need to make their voice heard clearly, as sometimes our sustainability messages can be confusing or contradictory between sectors.”
In his consultancy work with businesses of all sizes, Andrew finds that his clients “quickly pick-up on the benefits for environmental management as a key part of their business rather than a “bolt-on” extra. It is then that they really can reduce their dependability of resource consumption and harness environmental and cost savings.”
Andrew concludes; “Learning from my experiences, we all need to be heading in the same direction on our shared environmental journey to improve our environment and to reduce our consumption. At this trying time of Brexit, we need our Politicians to truly get the message: sustainability and environmental issues are not the problem but part of the solution.”
Michael Bright CEnv provided a solution concept, stating; "We live in a world that in many ways is rapidly changing; such as climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. One way that we can face and address these many challenges and create the world we want is by the application of Permaculture ethics, principles and design.
"Permaculture is a design approach for creating sustainable ways of living by working with Nature, including its patterns and systems, and for meeting as many of our needs as possible from our own resources."
CEnvs on Social Media
Honorary Fellow and Chartered Environmentalist, Tony Juniper tweeted "Earth Overshoot Day today. This means that from now until New Year’s Day 2019 our use of our planet’s capacity will be unsustainable. It was in 1970 that we started to run up this ecological overdraft & inevitable bankruptcy comes closer each year." This doesn't give much hope for change, but could be a catalyst for us to think faster and make a difference before it is too late.
Chartered Environmentalist, Martin Gettings MIEMA, Group Head of Sustainability at the Canary Wharf Group plc, provided a more positive angle in a response on LinkedIn:
“collaboration, participation and action is the only way”.
The Society for the Environment couldn’t agree more with this sentiment - and we will continue to encourage action and facilitate collaboration where possible.
Environmental Manager at Skanska, Ruth Finlayson CEnv MIEMA, has urged others on social media to make a difference;
“We only have one earth, let's try live within our means!”
In 2017, Simon Reid CEnv, Sustainability Manager at innocent, was already thinking on similar lines by tweeting; “(un)happy #EarthOvershootDay everyone. Time to stop living on our overdraught.” Imagine what Simon thinks to the 2018 results.
Dr Colin Church, CEO of one of the Society’s Licensed Body’s CIWM, states that “We need to be much more frugal with our planet’s bounty. CIWM works to make the best and safest use of resources to protect and enrich life on our planet.” He followed this by urging resource professionals to play their part by joining CIWM today – visit the CIWM website to find out more.
These are simply a small number of examples of individuals getting involved and doing their bit to promote the requirement to push back Earth Overshoot Day for future year. Find out more and get involved in Earth Overshoot Day here »