Lockdown has reduced human impact on the Earth and pushed back the annual day used to mark point in the year when the planet’s resources effectively run out.
This year’s Earth Overshoot Day, when humanity will have used as many resources as the planet can renew in the whole year, will take place tomorrow (22 Aug) around three weeks later than last year, according to Global Footprint Network.
Humanity’s global ecological footprint, which is calculated every year using 15,000 data points per country per year, shrank by almost 10 per cent as a “direct consequence” of coronavirus-induced lockdowns, researchers said, while warning that this should not be viewed as progress.
The major drivers behind the decrease impact were lower wood harvest and CO2 emissions, which lowered their respective footprint by eight and 14.5 per cent respectively.
“Sustainability requires both ecological balance and people’s wellbeing ensured over the long-term, therefore this year’s sudden Ecological Footprint contraction cannot be mistaken for progress,” said Laurel Hanscom, Global Footprint Network CEO. “This year more than ever, Earth Overshoot Day highlights the need for strategies that increase resilience for all.”
Earth Overshoot Day was marked in the UK by young climate activist musicians, who performed Mozart’s Serenade No.10 for winds in front of the UK’s oldest wind farm, in Cornwall. The stunt was a partnership between the Orchestra for the Earth and renewable energy company Good Energy to highlight the desire of young people for a green recovery.
“Earth Overshoot Day reminds us all that we are using more resources than our planet can afford to give. On this day, we want to highlight what the transition to a green economy would mean for future generations,” said climate scientist and founder of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport.
“Young people understand the volatile position we are in and want Government and business to act so that we move the date back before it is too late. We owe it to future generations to prioritise a green recovery today. For better jobs, greener lives and a more hopeful future.”
Musician and climate activist Lorraine Hart said she is “frightened” for the future of the planet. “We are here today to urge the government to act and highlighted the incredible power and opportunity that renewable energy brings,” she said.
It comes at a time when climate change has been identified by the Met Office to be driving the UK’s recent extreme weather events, and the Local Government Association has revealed that the UK could create almost 700,000 new green jobs by 2030 with the right support.
Good Energy also released a survey of over 1,000 young people, which found that that over half (58 per cent) think that climate breakdown is our next big global crisis after Covid-19.
Humanity currently uses 60 per cent more resources than what can be regenerated – or as much as if we lived on 1.6 planet Earths.
The Global Footprint Network also produces resources on how to reduce human impact on the earth and #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day, including food production, transport, energy, population and nature protection. Reducing the carbon footprint by 50 per cent would move the date by 93 days. Cutting food waste in half would move it by 13 days.