Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This year, August 13th is Earth Overshoot Day!

WIO Joins a global campaign led by Global Footprint Network to tell the world that, “In less than eight months, humanity has used up nature’s budget for the entire year.”

In less than eight months, humanity has used up nature’s budget for the entire year, with carbon sequestration making up more than half of the demand on nature, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.

This year Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a leading network that works on water, environment and climate change in India, joins with the Global Footprint Network to spread the message around Earth Overshoot Day.

Global Footprint Network tracks humanity’s demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature’s ability to provide for this demand (biocapacity). Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

In simple terms, as on 13th August 2015 the humans of world have spent resources of the Earth by more than 50 per cent the Earth can renew for this year.  At this rate, we would need one and half Earth to support our current demands. 

The costs of this ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day, in the form of deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter will significantly amplify the former, if current climate models are correct. Consequently, government decision-makers who factor these growing constraints in their policy making will stand a significantly better chance to set their nation’s long-term economic performance on a favorable track.

“Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet’s biocapacity,” said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric. “The global agreement to phase out fossil fuels that is being discussed around the world ahead of the Climate Summit in Paris would significantly help curb the Ecological Footprint’s consistent growth and eventually shrink the Footprint.”

According to data generated by the Global Footprint Network, it will take resources of double the size of India to support India at the current level of consumption.  “We can’t sustain such growth models and consumption patterns anymore.  We sincerely want India to take strong measures to cut its ecological footprints and go for greener growth models,” says Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO).

As the third largest Green House Gas (GHG) emitter of the world, we are still better than many countries in terms of our lifestyles and consumption patterns.  According to reports, Japan would need five and half countries of its size to meet consumption requirements.  Similarly, China and UK would require almost three countries of their respective sizes to meet their current consumption levels. 

“Majority of Indians, especially the rural folks and forest dwellers, are known for their traditional eco-friendly lifestyles.  However, the urban India is growing fast in a highly GHG emitting lifestyle.  India needs to learn from its villages, preserve forests, conserve water bodies and Rivers, promote traditional irrigation and ecological agriculture more urgently than ever before,” urged Panda.
The carbon footprint is inextricably linked to the other components of the Ecological Footprint — cropland, grazing land, forests and productive land built over with buildings and roads. All these demands compete for space. As more is being demanded for food and timber products, fewer productive areas are available to absorb carbon from fossil fuel. This means carbon emissions accumulate in the atmosphere rather than being fully absorbed.

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), India
Mob: +91-9437050103

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues in the state for more than two and half decades now.

Global Footprint Network is an international think tank working to drive informed, sustainable policy decisions in a world of limited resources. Together with its partners, Global Footprint Network coordinates research, develops methodological standards, and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.
Additional Resources:

More on Earth Overshoot Day:

Follow on social media: #overshoot

To calculate your own personal Ecological Footprint, and learn what you can do to reduce it, go to:

Free Public Data Package (Ecological Footprint Data on 182 countries):

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