Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day is the day of the year when we’ve used up a year’s worth of planetary resources; once we are past that date, we’re consuming resources non-renewably. In 2019 we hit that date on the 29th of July; as a general rule, it gets a little bit earlier each year. It’s a date calculated for the planet as a whole but you can go to www.footprintcalculator.org and calculate your personal overshoot day.

I did this and got my overshoot day as the 24th of July; for reference the average for France is the 14th of May. I was disappointed because (like everyone else) I consider myself pretty green – I seldom drive or fly, I don’t eat much meat – so I decided to see what I could do to change my date. If I installed solar panels and generated 100% of my electricity needs I move the date to the 26th of July – big deal. If I only eat unpackaged, local food, this becomes the 28th of August! If I now go vegan, this suddenly becomes the 15th of October! If I eliminate my 5 hours flying per year this becomes the 21st of November. If I change my small car for an electric one, the date becomes the 7th of December. And if I stop driving (currently 100 Km per week) altogether I actually get through the whole year and arrive at the 21st of Jan 2020. If I want to make any more improvements at this point, I have to move to a smaller house.

ChangeDays ‘bought’
Install Solar Panels2
Completely Change Food  
Buy only local, unpackaged food  
Go Vegan (from occasional meat)
80  
33  
47
Eliminate Flying (currently 5 hours per year)36
Get Electric Car (instead of 4 litres / 100 Km)16
Eliminate Driving (from 100 Km per week)60

This tells me that I would have to live like a monk to stay within the Earth’s resources; it’s an effort very few people would be willing to make, myself included. But it does encourage me to get more of my food from local markets and maybe to get an electric car when I need to replace my current car. 

Part of the reason that it’s hard for me to live within the Earth’s resources is that my footprint includes a fraction of the government’s footprint.


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