In 2015, 13 August is Earth Overshoot Day. The day marks the estimated calendar date when humanity’s demand on the planet’s ecological services (which produce renewable resources and assimilate wastes) outstrips what the Earth can supply. This means that for the rest of the year, we are taking more than is regenerated, operating in Overshoot. Last year, Earth Overshoot Day was August 19th. We first went into Overshoot in the late 1970s, and since then the day has crept ever earlier on the calendar. This means we are using the ecological resources of just over 1.5 Earths.
Meeting the challenge of providing for all humanity’s needs within the limits of what our Earth can provide will require a radical restructuring of the global economy. In this post I will discuss how a post-growth economy based around not-for-profit enterprise can help us get to One Planet Living.
Before we get into that, though, what is Earth Overshoot Day all about? It’s based on the concept of Ecological Footprinting, which is both a science-based sustainability metric and also a sustainability communication tool developed by the Global Footprint Network. You can read the methodological details here, but the basic idea is that the Ecological Footprint is the amount of productive space needed to provide the ecological resources and absorb the waste of an individual, a city, a business, a country or the whole world, expressed in global hectares. An Ecological Footprint is made up of cropland, pasture, fishing grounds, forest, land built-up with buildings or infrastructure and the land needed to absorb carbon emissions, with this last one usually accounting for at least half the footprint.
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