On July 29 2019, humanity will have used nature’s resource budget for the entire year, according to Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability organization that has pioneered the Ecological Footprint. The Ecological Footprint adds up all of people’s competing demands for biologically productive areas – food, timber, fibers, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel comprise 60% of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.
© 2019 Earth Overshoot Day
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds after what Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in that year. Over the past 20 years, it has moved up three months to July 29, the earliest ever. This means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate, equivalent to 1.75 Earths. Humanity first saw ecological deficit in the early 1970s. Overshoot is possible because we are depleting our natural capital, compromising the planet’s future regenerative capacity.
Ecological overspending costs are becoming increasingly evident: deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.
“Ultimately, human activity will be brought in balance with Earth’s ecological resources. The question is whether we choose to get there by disaster or by design – one-planet misery or one-planet prosperity,” said Mathis Wackernagel, co-inventor of Ecological Footprint accounting and founder of Global Footprint Network.
Disappearance of Biodiversity
FAO launched the first-ever global report on “The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture” presenting mounting and worrying evidence that the biodiversity sustaining our food systems is disappearing. This puts the future of our food, livelihoods, health, and environment under severe threat.
Once lost, the report warns all species that support our food systems and sustain the people who grow and/or provide our food cannot be recovered. Biodiversity-friendly farming practices such as organic are helping to counter this scenario.
Organic is Part of the Solution!
Given its potential for reducing carbon emissions, enhancing soil fertility and improving climate resilience, organic agriculture can play a major role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Because organic farming does not allow the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, focusing instead on establishing closed nutrient cycles, minimising losses via runoff, volatilization, and emissions, nitrogen levels on organic farms tend to be lower per hectare than on conventional farms which can contribute to a sustainable climate-friendly production system that delivers enough food.
Also, conventional agriculture uses vast quantities of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. It takes significant amounts of energy to manufacture these chemicals. Organic agriculture minimizes energy consumption by 30-70% per unit of land by eliminating the energy required to manufacture synthetic fertilizers, and by using internal farm inputs, thus reducing fuel used for transportation.
#MoveTheDate toward One-Planet Compatibility
If we move the date of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days annually, humanity can reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. The Global Footprint Network highlights opportunities for action that are available today and assesses their impact on the date of Earth Overshoot Day. You can start contributing to change by calculating your ecological footprint!