Overshoot Picking Up Steam
Overshoot. Think of it as the canary in the mine safeguarding human civilization.
Overshoot Day is the day each year by which mankind has exhausted an entire year's supply of natural resources. From Overshoot Day until the end of the year we demolish the Earth's resource reserves. Some call it "eating our seed corn."
Last year, thanks to Covid restrictions, Overshoot Day fell on August 25. This year it moved up to July 29 even with the pandemic on the verge of a fourth wave.
"With almost half a year remaining, we will already have used up our quota of the Earth's biological resources for 2021," said Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, where world leaders will gather later this year for the COP26 climate summit in November. "If we need reminding that we're in the grip of a climate and ecological emergency, Earth Overshoot Day is it."
"Rather than recognize this as a reset moment, governments have been eager to get back to business-as-usual. Global emissions are already creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels," said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a US-based environmental group.
"We missed opportunities when bailout funds were given to major climate polluters, like the aviation and meat industries, without any requirements for a green recovery," said Feldstein. "And we continue to miss opportunities every day that officials refuse to recognize the climate and extinction crises as emergencies — just like the pandemic."
But, of course, there are no other planets for us to plunder. All this illustrates is the real Rogues Gallery of overconsumption. In this fixed and finite biosphere the weak and poor accommodate the stronger nations' gluttony. The major consumers can't talk equity. How could anyone convince the American people that they would have to trim their consumption by half or even 80 per cent?