Earth Overshoot Day is a concept developed by the Global Footprint Network and denotes the day on which humanity has exhausted Nature’s budget for the year. In other words, it marks the point in the calendar when we’ve consumed all the biological resources that the Earth can renew during the year.
The only good news is that this year it’s 24 days later than it was last year (July 29th), due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19-producing coronavirus. But we shouldn’t count on viruses to help us avoid overshoot!
Dave Gardner, of GrowthBusters, produced a special podcast for this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. It features an impressive array of experts including William Catton (author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change), steady state economists Brian Czech and Herman Daly, Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb), Dennis Meadows (co-author of Limits to Growth), the co-founders of the ecological footprint concept Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, the Population Media Center’s Bill Ryerson, and many others.
In her Moving Upstream blog, Karen Shragg offers her thoughts on why Every Day is Overshoot Day. And Lucia Tamburino and Philip Cafaro discuss Earth Overshoot Day with an emphasis on population, showing how both population numbers and consumption levels impact ecological sustainability.
Needless to say, there are many scholars of the human population crisis who are producing valuable content on the subject. If you find information you consider especially interesting, why not share it with us or on your social media?
Overpopulation is Always the Underlying Issue
Earth Overshoot Day reminds us that there is no avoiding the issue of human overpopulation. All of our spectacular advances can only buy us time, as Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, noted during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 1970:
“There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort. Fighting alone, they may win temporary skirmishes, but united they can win a decisive and lasting victory to provide food and other amenities of a progressive civilization for the benefit of all mankind.”
Borlaug also remarked: “[Man] is using his powers for increasing the rate and amount of food production. But he is not yet using adequately his potential for decreasing the rate of human reproduction.”
Ultimately, humanity will have to use its potential to decrease the rate of human reproduction if it is going to avoid overshoot. Every country will have to develop policies that lead to a sustainable population at a level of consumption considered acceptable by that population.
There is no other way. Let’s continue to spread the word.
You can support us in raising awareness of the issue of overpopulation by joining us on social media (links below), becoming a member, and learning more about the issue from our website.
Madeline Weld, Ph.D.
President, Population Institute Canada
Tel: (613) 833-3668