August Green Guru Spotlight: Earth Overshoot Day and why businesses and cities should care.



This year, Earth Overshoot Day is estimated to be before August 22nd.  Earth Overshoot Day is the approximate day when humankind’s consumption of resources and generation of waste outstrips the Earth’s ability to regenerate (replenish resources and absorb waste). It has been calculated by the Global Footprint Network and the New Economic Foundation from about 1970 onwards and the Earth Overshoot date comes earlier every year because our rate of consumption has been steadily increasing.  According to the Global Footprint Network estimates we consume the ecological resources equivalent to more than 1.5 Earths! In other words, it takes Earth 1.5 years to regenerate what we use in one year. Some countries are consuming far more than 1.5 Earths which is being offset by the countries that consume less. The US is using the resources equivalent to 4.16 Earths! 


Countries like China and India are consuming much less but are on a trajectory to rapidly consume more. The cost of over-spending the Earth’s resources is soil erosion, poor air quality, food shortages, smaller forests, shrinking fish population, and a resource crunch. All of which impacts the ability of companies to do business in the medium to long run. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is a global initiative that aims to highlight the growing cost of ecosystem degradation. TEEB presents an approach that can help decision-makers incorporate the value of ecosystems & biodiversity into decision-making. TEEB in Business and Enterprise provides important evidence of growing corporate concern about biodiversity loss, and offers examples of how leading companies are taking action to conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystems. This report is for a range of enterprises such as mining, oil and gas, infrastructure, agriculture and fisheries, banks, asset managers, insurance services etc. The TEEB manual for cities highlights how cities can benefit from effective management of ecosystem services. There are reports for wetlands, oceans and countries also. Read this interview to learn about how Johnson & Johnson is working with World Wildlife Fund to help "bring global resource demands back in balance with the constraints of a finite planet."

Watch this short video from Global Footprint Network that explains Earth Overshoot.

Read more about the ecological footprint for businesses and cities.  Take the Quiz to find out your personal ecological footprint.



Green Guru: Suparna Vashisht, August 2013

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