Monday, July 29, 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is the earliest ever, again

Last year, I wrote Earth Overshoot Day 2018 is the earliest ever.  That was on August 1.  Today is Earth Overshoot Day 2019 and it's three days earlier on July 29.  That's moving the date in the wrong direction.

For a visual illustration of what the day means, watch Earth Overshoot Day from the WWF.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day falls on 29 July. It means we’ve already used a whole planet’s worth of resources this year. We are over overfishing, over harvesting, over consuming and over polluting more than our planet can sustain.

We can all make a difference to move the date for Earth Overshoot Day and create a sustainable future.

Find out what your ecological footprint is and how you can reduce it today.
This was my footprint last year.
I calculated my environmental impact at Global Footprint Network and found out that if everyone followed my lifestyle, humanity would need 3.8 planets and that my personal Earth Overshoot Day would be April 5th.  Eep!  That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm less of a resource hog and waste producer than the average American, whose lifestyle would require 5.0 planets to sustain it if all 7.6 billion of us followed it.  I require 6.6 global hectares to support me, while the average American requires 8.22.
This year, I found out that if everyone lived like me, humanity would need 3.5 planets and that my personal Earth Overshoot Day would be April 14th.  Progress!  I'm not at my current goal of having the impact of the average German, which is 3.2 Earths, but I'm getting there.

Last year, I found out one of the things that increased my footprint was my diet.  I was eating too much meat, which meant a full two hectares to feed me.  I cut down a bit on the meat I ate and it made a difference.  I now require 1.9 hectares for my diet.  Again, progress.  The Global Footprint Network has more tips in Food and the Ecological Footprint.

How much does food contribute to our Ecological Footprint? Did you know food recommended by nutritionists are also better for the planet? Find out what you can do to reduce our food Footprint in this fun animated video.
Here's to eating more locally produced plant-based food and less meat to make headway on my progress to having a smaller footprint and moving the date in the right direction!


  1. May I copy and paste this in its entirety? Full credits of course.

    1. Go right ahead. By asking, you're better than the late Current TV, which copied one of my posts asking if Keith Olbermann would be hired by Al Jazeera America. That was OK, but they put it under "Humor." They must have thought the question was ridiculous and the answer was "HAHAHAHA! No."

    2. Thanks, just copied your URL. I have friends who fight to the death on any posts that try to improve the planet or health of people. Can't wait to engage....I do have some peculiar friends, eh?

    3. If you need some support, tell me which of your blogs you posted the link on. I might help you argue with your readers. Or did you post it somewhere else, like your Facebook page?

  2. Facebook, probably my blog too, the blog is more of a diary of our sailing life but has sort of morphed into a personal bitchfest.

    1. I would guess "Irritation" instead of "No Gridlock, a Seafarer 38C," then.

  3. Thanks for twigging me to an interesting quiz, Pinku. I came in at 1.2 Earths (humblebrag!)

    I reckon my true impact is actually lower, because I could hedge on the meat questions. Most of the pork and chicken I eat is heisted from untouched, leftover meal trays for patients at a couple of the hospitals where I work. I call myself a "scavengetarian." Dietary always sends up a few extras in case of new admissions or patients wanting seconds. And there are often patients who don't feel like eating because they're ill, depressed, had takeaway food delivered (how people on the dole can spend money on Uberfood is beyond me, when I'm too damn tight to do that despite being on great union wages...) When I have a chance, I'll slip into the ward kitchen toward the end of a shift and bung the chicken thighs, sliced pork, beef cuts or whatever into a plastic container. Not the stews, curries or other protein melange stuff -- too messy. The solid meats I can stretch into main dishes, such as a Thai green curry in the fridge now that used hospital chicken, coconut milk from a bargain store, onions, carrots and capsicum (green peppers in American lingo) that I buy in bulk, seasoned with this fantastic curry paste I buy from a Thai store a couple suburbs over. The meat is never touched by patients' hands -- yuck! -- so my only worry is that it's sat too long at room temperature before I snaffle it away.

    One of the reasons I get a low # of Earths is not having a car. Bicycle, street trams and Melbourne's electric train system (powered, unfortunately, by filthy brown coal plants.) One of the questions about carpooling doesn't allow for the answer of "I don't even get into cars." Every once in a while when I'm working a community mental health gig where we have to go to people's homes to watch them take their medication (that's often done for the first few days after they're discharged from hospital, to ensure compliance) I'll be in a car. It feels odd, like I'm a primitive being exposed to new technology, even though I spent much of my life driving, driving, driving across America.

    Anyway, I feel better about my Earthconsumption now. Based on my former American life, though, and how the Xwife and I used to jet across the planet at will (I have flown around the entire world at least three times when I add up the trips to and from Oz-Europe, Oz-North America and N.Am-Europe) I've consumed five or six Earths already. Shame on me... If I hadda known, I woulda done different, especially the flying.

    1. You're welcome. You're doing your part.

      If you did that with other resources in addition to food, you'd be engaged in Freeganism. My students have reported on it and they are pretty amazed that living off the perfectly good resources that society throws away has become elevated above simple dumpster diving.

      That's hard to do here, with the long winters and all. I used to aspire to riding a bike to work like I did when I lived in Ann Arbor, but I'm too old, the distances are just a touch too long, and the most direct route is a freeway where a bike is prohibited. Once I gave that up, I bought Pearl the Prius instead.

      I'm glad you found out that you are lighter on the planet than you thought.

  4. Another thought sparked by that quiz, which touches on what JHK mentions about the unsustainable global supply chain (when he's not on a grumpy old RedState man political rant) is the unbelievable cheapness of things that have a huge amount of "food miles."

    One of my hobbies, which comes from the same psychology that makes me a scavenger, is shopping for ultra-bargin food. Over the years, I have scoped out stores throughout the Melbourne region that practically give stuff away. These joints make the Dollar Generals you feature look like Macy's. Their business model is to sell products that are past their "best by" date (which is a recommendation for freshness, or almost at their "sell by" date, which is a legal requirement to toss it once that has passed.)

    I don't pay more than 99⍧ for a 2-litre carton of milk (which typically has a use-by of the day I purchase it.) If I have to spend more than $1 on a kilo of Greek yoghurt, I think I'm doing it tough. Keep in mind that an Aussie dollar is worth 70 U.S. cents. Yoghurt lasts forever -- it's already full of bacteria! -- and I break the milk down into smaller containers, freeze it and parcel it out for frothing with my morning cafe lattes.

    The amazing thing, though, is the distances that food items come from in these stores, and they're flogged off for next to nothing. I have a stash of Maryland brand chocolate chip cookies, baked in the U.K., that only cost me $2 for 3 packets weighing 145 grams each (5 oz. in American terms.) I have crackers from Israel, chocolate bars from Croatia, chocolate-coated biscuits from Holland (are you noticing a theme with the chokkies? Good thing I'm not diabetic!) hot sauce from Pakistan and heaps of expired American-made dry goods from Costco (courtesy of a shop that takes their rejects). All for pocket change.

    One shop I go to has a fridge with out-of-date cheese. Kilogram tubs of Greek-made feta in brine for $3! I once snagged appelation controlee French Roquefort at $5 a 1.2 kg round, wrapped-in-wax hunk (It was getting a bit funky, but that stuff's full of mould to begin with. Made superb salad dressing.)

    What an amazing time we live in, when food can travel around the globe, NOT sell fast enough, and be unloaded for bupkis. I'm not patronising food banks or charities -- these are for-profit shops, so somebody must be making money somehow, even if it's by writing off losses against their business taxes. How can it go on, and how many Earths' worth of resources were used to provide me with unhealthy snacks?

    (In my defence, I give most of the cookies/crackers and a lot of the cheese away at the many hospitals where I work. I have a reputation for being the eccentric bloke who's always laying out junk food in the staff rooms and loudly proclaiming how little I spent. Generosity and thrift at the same time. Some people DO turn up their noses at expired products, though, especially when I make Turkish dips with the superannuated yoghurt.)

    1. You've just provided the best examples I've read about how global the food supply is. It seems to be even more true where you are now than in the U.S., where the average food item has traveled 1500 miles from farm to plate.