July 29th was the Earth Congestion Day and the synonym "World Creation Day" expresses very well how our planet is. How does one arrive at this calculated consumption of resources? In short, it is the ratio between biocapacity and Footprint or the resulting discrepancy. Sounds complicated? It's not at all.
Serious facts explained simply
The scientists William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel had the idea of calculating the ecological footprint in the 1990s and developed a kind of accounting system for the Earth. On the supply side are the areas of our planet: Fields, forests, oceans, lakes, pastures, deserts, roads, cities. It takes into account the capacity of ecosystems to produce biological, usable materials and, under current conditions, to absorb the waste materials we humans produce, summarized as "biocapacity" (or biologically used area) and expressed in global hectares (gha).
The demand side indicates how much biological capacity we humans consume. Building land, energy production and livestock farming take up area. Then the environment has to process exhaust gases and waste and cope with our lifestyle: Whether and how much we drive our cars, whether we turn off the lights or leave them on when we leave a room, how much waste we produce and where we buy our food - all this logically consumes natural resources as well as energy. This consumption on the demand side is our ecological footprint.
The ecological footprint compares supply and demand and determines how much of the earth's surface is used to sustain our lifestyle. If we divide the earth fairly, each person is allocated approximately 1.7 hectares (gha) for their personal lifestyle. The problem, however, is that, according to the WWF, every human being consumes an average of 3.3 hectares per year - far more than the Earth can provide.
In addition, the biocapacity needed to maintain the diversity of plant and animal life has not yet been taken into account, which is now an absolute necessity.
In fact, the Footprint is well below 1.7 gha. Strictly speaking, we have been standing in the meadows with nature since the 1980s, because since then we have been consuming more biocapacity than the ecosystems can provide. And, strictly speaking, we are exploiting nature as if we had our planet 1.75 times.
Earth Overshoot Day is the difference between biocapacity and the global Footprint and shows the following: Since July 29, more resources have been consumed than can be replenished by the end of the year.
This day is calculated annually by Global Footprint Network, an international non-profit organization in the field of environment. In this way, the Network illustrates the ecological limits of the earth and aims to promote well-founded political decisions. The global calculation is based on the best statistical data currently available.
While it is not possible to measure biocapacity and the Footprint with absolute, scientific accuracy, and so there are fluctuations in the estimation of the date for the overshoot, the conclusion is clear: our planet can't take any more. It is overused and overloaded.
By the way, the Earth overload day has never been earlier than this year. The German Earth Overload Day 2019 was already on 03 May. Since that day we are living here at the expense of future generations.
Help in case of burnout
To be able to give first aid to our planet we only need to think about what we would need if we were overloaded and burnt out. With burnout it takes time to get back on your feet. We also have to give our planet time to catch up with our lifestyle. To do this we would have to adapt to the speed of the earth; it is clear that this does not work the other way round.
Interestingly, the tips that help with a burnout can also be applied to the earth:
Not acknowledging problems is pointless and in the long run quite harmful. Admitting too much is the first step and the basis for being able to fight against causes and not symptoms.
A point has been reached where it can no longer go on like this, so it is time for change. What is stressful? And how can one get rid of this burden? step by step, strong by strong by strong by strong by h2> p> p> If one takes on too much at once, it will backfire - especially in such a case. A kind of problem hierarchy can help here: What has to change immediately? What can be the next point? So: What can you do better right now to protect the environment?
One step back
In case of stress-related overload you take a step shorter - for the earth we take a step back: Back to the roots!
For body and mind it is important to eat healthy and balanced food. For the environment, it is good to buy regional and seasonal food and to avoid (or minimize) things that are not good for it, such as meat and products containing palm oil.
Switch off the autopilot
For stressful phases, a negative way of thinking is typical, which usually happens automatically in the subconscious. Try to switch off the autopilot of habit and think about the environment - when you go shopping, want to order something or book a holiday.
relaxation is especially important now. Give also the environment the opportunity to relax. Take your rubbish with you at the picnic or leave the car for a while.
If it is stressful and you are not feeling well, you tend to withdraw. This is where social ties are important, to your partner, family and friends. For your contribution to an improved Footprint, look for contacts who can help you. If we follow these tips, we might achieve a timeout (to regenerate the earth) instead of a burn out.
Put in a contribution and share it if you like. The Global Footprint Network collects on the page Earth Overshoot Day the contributions of people from all over the world who actively contribute under #movethedate.