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Earth Overshoot Day 2021

 


                                                        photo credit: GFN

Earth Overshoot Day 2021: An Interview with Laurel Hanscom by Oladosu Adenike

Welcome everyone to this important interview. On the 29th of July 2021 will be the earth overshoot day coming earlier than that of last year that occurred on the 22nd of August. Last year, the pandemic size has reduced our carbon foot print but it is not sustainable that way because a lot of lives has been lost and several hardship untold. This is how it looks like in our economy; we have budget, once the budget is exhausted we might keep looking for supplementary budget while keep borrowing to balance the budget but it can get to a certain time when we might not get fund to finance our budget. This is where the hardship comes into play. This is the same scenario we are having with our environment today. Today I have with me the Chief Executive Officer of Global Footprint Network, Laurel Hanscom.  Can we meet you and talk us through the earth overshoot?

Laurel Hanscom (LH): the earth overshoot is a day when we humanity has used all the natural resource the earth will use in the entire year. Last year it was August 22nd, it was just over three weeks than this year, as you pointed out, it is just due to the pandemic in the economy, and our travels that led to major reduction; with almost 10% decrease in carbon emissions. The way earth overshoot is calculated is that, we compare humanity footprint with ecological footprint to our biological capacity; the ability to renew. The calculation is the ratio between what we are consuming and what the earth can provide. So when we consume less, the ratio changes. We saw last year that there was a disaster, it came with a massive human lost and it certainly not a definition of sustainability. Sustainability means striving within what the earth can renew; we are not taking more than a planet can renew.

Question 1: what is the implication of countries with different overshoot as to what is happening with the current extreme weather events?

LH: overshoot is a result of over exploitation of earth’s resource and when we exploit we are not taking into account majorly what we are doing such as deforestation, over fishing, emission of more carbon into the atmosphere that is leading to heating of the planet. Heating of the planet in return leads to this undistributed weather events. We are starting to see across the world especially in Africa, also in rainforest, Small Island where sea level rise is making a difference earlier. We are seeing the unequal distribution of the repercussion of the consequences of colonialism of a system of exploitation that have been created out of colonialism and will continue to get worse if there is no changes at the global level. The good is that there are tons of solutions that currently exist in terms of reducing our carbon footprint and improving our quality of life. We just need political will.

Question 2: Is there a time frame where we will all exhaust our ecological resources with nothing left?

LH: the world will be wiped out before that happens. This overshoot cannot happen forever neither can be a state of earth overshoot forever nor by definition be in the state of earth overshoot indefinitely. The faster we reduce the level of our consumption, the shorter the time - global warming and climate change are some of the interplay. 60%of our ecological footprint is carbon footprint which is something we need to start tackling. It is not only doing it for humanity, it is better we start thinking about what is good for my community; we need to mitigate for us, my city, my town. We need to make that decision to get to net zero.

Question 3: The earth overshoot occurred earlier than last year. What was the lesson learnt from last years' overshoot that we can improve on?

LH: the lessons learnt from the pandemic ongoing and the way it move the date last year shows it is possible to make a major policy change at the global level. Obvious that is not something we can replicate because it happens there was a disaster. Hence the urgency of the change we saw, we can apply it to the climate crisis. We don’t have the time. We need to be moving a lot faster

Question 4: which sector produces the most carbon footprint and what impact can the green recovery play?

HL: the biggest carbon footprint comes from energy and transport. It varies country by country (https://data.footprintnetwork.org). being able to break it into these categories better decide what we can do locally.

Question 5: What is the likely outcome of Earth overshoot under different scenarios in the next 10 years?

“If we are able to move the earth overshoot by 6 days every year, we will be out of overshoot by 2050”

LH: if we are able to move the earth overshoot by 6 days every year, we will be out of overshoot by 2050. Last year the date moved over three weeks. There is a difference between moving the date by 30 days and moving the date by two days. Likewise, as 1.5 degrees of warming is much less bad than 2 degrees of warming. The faster we can get out of fossil fuel, the faster we can start living within the budget of the planet. Our ability to live within our planetary boundary will tell us whether we are going to continue with our planet.

Question 6: what link does the extreme weather event has to do with countries whose earth overshoots have reached?

HL: when comparing bio-capacity with a country ecological footprint, not all it can be tied to those extreme weather event, for example Switzerland, Switzerland can provide resource that are consumed within; they do a clean job in protecting their natural green spaces. They are not actually degrading their environment but degrading the environment somewhere else and importing those goods. So there consumption is much greater than what their country can afford. This is why a country may see their earth overshoot later in the year while some countries earlier. For some countries, they have no overshoot because they are not exhausting there resource yet.

Question 7: do you mean overshoot has to do with individual degradation level?

LH: not always. The consumption has to do with how much is being consumed in a country but we are looking at the consumption level. For example Switzerland may be making their own chocolate or watches bit the raw materials is coming from another country. What we are looking overshoot days, we are looking at what is being consumed in a country. Another case is that, a country can be overshoot if it is degrading the resource in the same country – which is even more dangerous situation. Another scenario is that, if you are living in below average income country and you are in a country that have an ecological footprint that exceeds your bio-capacity then you can’t buy your way out of those resources constrains. For example, Switzerland has a lot of money so when they use more than their country can produce; they can go buy it somewhere else. While if you are living in a country where you have a bio-capacity deficit and below average income, chances are that your country will not be able to buy their way out of the overuse. We did a recent studies and find out that 72% of the population lives in one of those countries; countries below average income and also country that there footprint is their bio-capacity – resource constrain. As well 72% of those populations are at risk of climate change).

Question 8: Africa account for 3% of global warming but feel the biggest impact of environmental disaster, why?

LH: that is core of injustice. The countries with the lowest contributing global warming, climate change and resource overuse has the greatest impact of extreme inequality.

Question 9: does this have to do with the overexploitation that makes that impact greater?

LH: it is rooted in colonialism not just colonialism in the past but also in the present continues to be pervasive. Lots need to be done in terms of reparation.

Question 10: what is your advice to government, individual, and businesses?

“If you have a business and you are not thinking of changes, you are not going to exist in 10 years”

HL: it is a mindset. If you have a business and you are not thinking of changes, you are not going to exist in 10 years. How do we make our life better that brings about opportunities but not crises?

Question 12: what is the 100 days of possibility all about?

LH: it is to highlight great ideas out there; products, processes and policies. For each day we will highlight it here (www.100daysofpossibility.org) and via social media too ( @EndOvershoot on Twitter), @globalfootprintnetwork on IG, www.youtube.com/globalfootprintnetwork on youTube). also check www.overshootday.org/solutions

Conclusion: to get to tell the people why we need to more the date because this is going to help to better our lives. To enable us bring up innovative and also sustainable finance that could help us to move the date so I agree with all has been said today. While we keep supporting the campaign for us all to have a sustainable future for all and it all start from now that we keep making those differences. Image if we keep moving that date of earth overshoot as stated by laurel, it is going to help us in achieving a zero carbon world. We can make that possible.

Guest (Laurel Hanscom);

Twitter - @laurel_gtn

Instagram - @justlaurel 

Host (Oladosu Adenike – [email protected])

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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