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Jeff Whitten: Overshoot day goes by
editor's notes

If there’s a blessing to be found in the pandemic, it might be this: Earth Overshoot Day happened Aug. 22, which was later this year than last year.

And if you’re asking what Earth Overshoot Day is, well, according to it’s the day of the year when mankind’s “demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.”

In other words, or at least as I understand them, it’s when we start living beyond the planet’s means to replenish itself for our benefit.

I.e., it’s when we begin writing checks our planet can’t cash.

In more recent years, that day was happening in either early August or late in July, but when scientists first started this exercise in 1970 we didn’t overshoot until nearly December.

As for how that date occurred later this year, here’s what the Global Footprint Network had to say: “Coronavirus-induced lockdowns caused the global Ecological Footprint to contract almost 10% but we still use as many ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 Earths. As public health and economic recovery have emerged as dominant concerns globally, decision makers are called to act on the unprecedented current disruption to build a future where all thrive within the means of our planet (“one-planet prosperity”)” 

I won’t hold my breath waiting on that “one-planet prosperity,” or of a bunch of stats from an environmental group slowing down the wholesale destruction of nature (which is what it is, no matter what else you might call it) in the name of economic advancement, but at least someone’s out there tracking this sort of thing – depressing as it is.

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