OAKLAND, Calif., June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Earth Overshoot Day 2020 lands on August 22, according to Global Footprint Network. The date reflects the 9.3% reduction of humanity's Ecological Footprint from January 1st to Earth Overshoot Day compared to the same period last year, a direct consequence of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns around the world. Decreases in wood harvest and CO2 emissions are the major drivers behind the historic shift in the long-term growth of humanity's Ecological Footprint.
The sudden year-over-year Ecological Footprint contraction is a far cry from the intentional change which is required to achieve both ecological balance and people's well-being, two inextricable components of sustainability. Global Footprint Network envisions a world where humanity lives on our planet's ecological budget by design rather than by disaster, so that all thrive within the means of Earth.
"Humanity has been united by the common experience of the pandemic and shown how intertwined our lives are. At the same time, we cannot ignore the deep unevenness of our experiences nor the social, economic, and political tensions which have been exacerbated by this global disaster," said Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom. "Making regeneration central to our rebuilding and recovery efforts has the potential to address the imbalances both in human society and in our relationship with the Earth."
Each year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth can renew during the entire year. Humanity currently uses 60% more than can be renewed – as much as if we lived on 1.6 planets.
The new research report details the impact of the pandemic on the carbon Footprint (14.5% decrease), including an assumption that economic activities will resume slowly. It also recognizes that lumber demand is down due to the economic downturn, while pressures from urban-rural migration increased the pressures on forests, leading to an overall 8.4% decrease in the forest products Footprint.
Although the global food system suffered significant disruptions, increasing food waste and malnutrition simultaneously, the food Footprint overall seems to have been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than ever, Earth Overshoot Day provides an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the future we want. Efforts to respond to COVID-19 have demonstrated that shifting ecological resource consumption trends in a short timeframe is possible. As decision makers shift focus from public health to economic crisis, strategies informed by biological resource security and 1-planet prosperity are far more likely to bring about the positive outcomes we seek.
Powerful lessons can be drawn from the collective experience of the pandemic:
- Governments are capable of acting swiftly when they put human lives above all else;
- Humanity is stronger when we act together:
- Businesses – including our partner Schneider Electric – and individuals alike can effectively collaborate in the pursuit of a shared goal when people recognize that their own lives, and that of the people they love, may be at risk.
- The necessary actions required to protect oneself, one's household, and one's community also protect others; one's decisions affect all.
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SOURCE Global Footprint Network