Yesterday, July 29, was Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) is that day in a calendar year when humans have consumed what the planet can restore in one year. With very few exceptions, each year since 1969 a new record has been set in that EOD happens earlier in the year. In other words, during 2019 humans have consumed in seven months what it takes the planet a year to replace.
Do the math. This can’t go on forever. In 2019 humans consumed planet resources at 1.7 times what the Earth can provide. All the environmental programs in the world can’t keep up at that rate. Even mariner’s beloved Chesapeake Bay, a cornucopia of sea life, is threadbare from excessive fishing.
Many of the resources similar to those in the Amazon rain forest cannot be restored even over generations. Fresh water, that is at least somewhat potable, is becoming too scarce for society to survive in certain regions; the fastest growing landscape around the world is desert.
It’s not just creatures and environment. Bauxite, the principal ore for aluminum, has about thirty years left at today’s consumption rate. Even Helium provokes concern not that it will be depleted but that the availability already is close to consumption. There may come a day when one will not be allowed to fill balloons with Helium!
In the United States and perhaps in all the industrially developed nations, consumption has spoiled a majority of the citizens. Mariner remembers in his childhood the first time he had three different fresh berries in his cereal at one time. Folks get used to abundance. It is interesting, too, that part of the role of progress is to keep abundant consumption easily available.
EOD, among many issues, has made citizens aware of wastefulness. The use of cows to provide protein is a popular issue. Raising cattle requires land, machinery, feed, and time that far outweighs the cost of “ourselves eating the grass in the first place”; using the grain family to provide protein is immeasurably more efficient – why let the cows eat it first?
Large corporations like Proctor and Gamble are actively looking for a replacement for single-use plastics. There is so much waste in the US that it has been shipped to a half dozen other nations for processing. The volume is so great that these countries have stopped receiving US trash. What will the US do with it? The sensible answer is to stop producing it.
Other than surrealistic agronomic solutions to offset wasteful consumption of the environment, other than preventing mining, deforestation and excessive entrepreneurship to abuse the biosphere, EOD can be extended purely by self-conscious conservation. Is someone enjoying being too fat – beyond normal body types? Contribute to extending EOD by eating less and stop consuming frivolously – that includes all of life’s purchases not just food. In mariner’s town, every family seems to own at least five gas or electric yard toys. Could a little more elbow grease push the EOD later in the year?
Mariner’s mind wanders speculatively. Today, environmentalism, eliminating gourmand behavior in everything, and commitment to a better world by every definition can significantly delay the Armageddon of a world consumed.