A day when we highlight our unsustainable demands on nature.
If nature was run like a bank account, we’d all expect to be told when there was nothing left to take.
Well, today 2 August is when we, humanity, get that ‘official’ warning from the ‘Bank of Nature’.
It’s called Earth Overshoot Day.
The Earth provides us with vital things like freshwater, food and air — and, up to a certain point, it has an amazing capacity to regenerate.
But we can’t keep taking and expect the Earth to cope.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the moment when we have taken as much as the planet can sustain in the current calendar year. (Find out more via Global Footprint Network)
Beyond that point (and in 2017 there are still over 150 days to go), the ‘account’ is technically empty.
And what does that mean for our amazing wildlife, wildernesses and people? It’s not good news. More forests flattened. Oceans emptied. Species harvested until their numbers collapse.
Too much at stake
I have to admit that a few years ago, Earth Overshoot Day would probably just have passed me by.
But not this year, nor ever again. There is too much at stake, with a lot we need to do ‒ and can do.
Working at WWF, I see scientific research almost every day, like our Living Planet Report, that shows the devastating toll of human activities on the planet and the variety of life (biodiversity) it contains.
But luckily for every stark reminder like Earth Overshoot Day, there are individuals and communities determined to take us on a new and different path.
Over the past three years, I have watched with awe as movements like WWF’s Earth Hour prove, year on year, the positive impact we can create together.
Our actions count
Anyone can become everyday heroes for the planet. It does not take any magical superpower, just the realization that we have a role to play, as part of mankind and nature itself.
It’s sad to note that this year Earth Overshoot Day is taking place earlier than any other year since we first pushed the planet into ‘debt’ in the 1970s. But, for me, this is an opportunity like never before to say enough is enough. It is time for us to #movethedate.
Our actions, and even daily decisions, can hold the key for a better, more sustainable future in more ways than one.
By being aware of our impact on the planet, we can start to make (and inspire!) sustainable choices in food, energy and transport, at home and in work or school, and help create a future where people and nature thrive together. Calculate your personal footprint here, and see what you can do to change things.
For example, I’m trying to opt for responsible products when I get my weekly groceries done ‒ buying local or seasonal produce and only as much as I need. And it is also easier to carry them home in my trusty reusable bag!
More broadly, we should not shy away from calling for action from our governments and preferred brands on the things that matter to us.
These may seem like small actions but they can go a long way.
Together, we can start to create real, positive change ‒ and make sure our Bank of Nature account is never empty again.
Rucha Naware is the Media Relations Manager at WWF International based in Brussels.