Earth ‘Overshoot’ Day
“The only resource that we need more of is political willpower”.
The Global Footprint Network is an international think tank which measures the Carbon Footprint of countries around the world, and its impact on the ecological wellbeing of the Earth, aimed at ensuring all people live well, within the means of the planet.
Time for change website defines a carbon footprint as follows:
The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The Paris Agreement, adopted by almost 200 countries in December 2015, agreed that the carbon footprint of every country on earth should gradually decline to almost zero by the year 2050. However, according to the co-founder and CEO of the Global Footprint Network, Mathis Wackernagel, this will demand a new way of life, which is challenging but not impossible.
Wackernagel echoes Pope Francis in recognising that major changes will be required in lifestyles if the world is to become sustainable and all peoples are to live with dignity and justice. “The good news”, Wackernagel notes, “is that everything is feasible with available technology and is cost effective because the overall benefits outweigh the costs. The only resource that we need more of is political willpower”.
The Global Footprint Network acts as an ecological accountancy company. It measure capital not in monetary assets and deficits, but in carbon footprints and their impact on the biodiversity of the earth.
You can access a challenging interactive map HERE which measures the Ecological Wealth of Nations, including Ireland. Alarmingly, Ireland, despite political promises, is failing to meet its commitments with a declining Biocapacity and an increasing Ecological Footprint.
The map also reveals that most of the wealthier and industrialised countries are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the oceans and forests are able to absorb and despoiling fishing grounds and forests faster than nature can replenish.
The Global Footprint Network has also calculated what it calls ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ – the day when, during a calendar year, humanity’s use of the Earth’s natural resources is exceeded beyond what the Earth is capable of replenishing during its annual cycle. The network has calculated that this year’s ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is occurring five days earlier than last year.
To give the reader an example of the alarming nature of this progression, the Global Footprint Network has calculated that in 1971 Earth Overshoot Day occurred on 24 December and in 2001 on 26 September (three months earlier in just three decades!). In 2016 it occurred on August 8.
Simply stated, this means that everything we have consumed since August 8 already exceeds the resources that planet Earth is capable of regenerating and ultimately, as Pope Francis states, the biggest losers are the world’s poor and most vulnerable.
You are invited to familiarise yourself with the Global Footprint Network’s interactive map which can be accessed here