Throughout history humanity has used natural resources to build cities, construct roads and to clothe and feed itself. For many decades the carbon dioxide that we produced could still be absorbed by nature and resources were sustainable. But during the mid-1970s we crossed a threshold. Humanity’s demand on nature exceeded what nature could regenerate. Earth Overshoot Day was upon us. On that day we ran out of budget for the remainder of the year, meaning we had used up all resources for that year.
In 1992 Earth Overshoot Day was on October 21. From that day forward we steal from future generations to come. Ten years later, in 2002, Earth Overshoot Day was on October 3. If we continue to cut down more trees than we grow, forests will disappear. If we catch more fish than the oceans can produce, the oceans will run empty. In fact, we are using up savings that are really meant for future generations.
These two YouTube videos from the Global Footprint Network and WWF explain Earth Overshoot Day very clearly:
In our current society where GDP is still the number one measure for growth, and where consuming more and more every day has become commonplace, it is clear that Earth Overshoot Day will happen earlier every year. In 2014, the date was August 19, which means that Earth Overshoot Day 2015 is approaching fast – probably around August 15.
Fortunately there are literally millions of people working every day on promising developments to improve sustainability on micro, meso and macro levels. For example, take the work that the Better Cotton Initiative is doing for sustainable textiles, FLOCERT with its Fairtrade Cotton Sourcing programme or The Forest Trust which is active in many commodities, helping companies develop sustainable supply chains. There are thousands of companies, initiatives and organisations working on improving sustainability every day, including ChainPoint and its customers.
The combined actions of these organisations help towards a more sustainable planet. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, we can start pushing back Earth Overshoot Day and start saving again instead of withdrawing more from the planet than we have available.
If you’d like to know more about ChainPoint and how we help to improve sustainability, please contact us or visit our blog.