15 May OVERSHOOT DAY: Today, May 15, Italy runs out of all the resources the Earth has to offer by 2023.
Neither steps forward nor steps backward. This is the verdict on Italy’s environmental sustainability. Italy, by 2023, is already in burnout. This is energy depletion, and more, called Overshoot Day, the day when the natural resources available to sustain a country end before the current year can actually be said to be over. The point of no return in Italy has already arrived: this year it falls on May 15, the same day as the Bahamas and Chile, and that is not good news.
At one time the most commonly accepted definition of sustainability was that of the United Nations Brundtland Commission, in 1987:
“…meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Yet we have passed the tipping point where we cannot sustain our own needs while forgetting those of future generations. Evidently, within half a century, consumerism, commercialism, and capitalism have destroyed the ecological balance, and humanity lives on credit.
The first time it fell was in 1972 and it was December 14, practically the end of the year.
Not even by design in that very year the report “the limit of Growth,” prepared by MIT in Boston, had been published, which said the earth has finite resources, and in that very year fell the first Overshoot day, that is the first year in which we managed to consume the planet’s resources that reproduce within the year.
By now we know, today is a date that falls with regularity. The one for the planet is in July but the one for individual states falls according to which resources are consumed quickly by individual states. The record still belongs to Qatar, which exhausted its resources on February 14. But Italy also plays in a very good position.
Il 15 Maggio 2023 l’Italia raggiugne il suo #overshootday. Significa che se tutti agissero come noi italiani avremmo bisogno di ben 2,7 pianeta Terra per soddisfare i livelli di consumo della popolazione mondiale.
— Prassede Colombo (@PrassedeColombo) May 14, 2023
Why overshoot days are not uniform across countries
On the GFN list, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe are just some of the countries in the Global South that do not have an Overshoot day. On the other hand, Qatar and Luxembourg exceeded their annual renewable natural resource quota in less than two months, marking their individual overshoot days on February 10 and 14, respectively.
What is the point of all this? It comes down to a formula. Countries whose per capita ecological footprint is less than the global per capita biocapacity (currently 1.6 gha) will not observe an overshoot day and can boast an “ecological reserve.” The reverse, on the other hand, causes a country to be in an “ecological deficit” situation.
— GO GREEN (@ECOWARRIORSS) July 28, 2022
Geographical and topographical differences lead to an imbalance in the availability of natural resources in a region. Developed, high-income nations deplete their rations at a faster rate, importing needed materials and living off the backs of low-income nations. This means that while most countries in the global South experience overshoot dates only toward the end of the year, the consumption habits of the global North cancel out their extended reserves, and Earth Overshoot Day continues to climb the calendar.
We’d need 5.1 Earths 🌎 if everyone on the planet lived like residents of the #USA 🇺🇸. If everyone lived like people in #Australia 🇦🇺, we’d need 4.5 Earths 🌏. How does your country compare? Find out here ⤵️https://t.co/kowF86pv5Y#MoveTheDate pic.twitter.com/Yojnrvlpxh
— Footprint Network (@EndOvershoot) July 28, 2022
WWF indicated that we may soon require the resources of five planets to meet our needs if the global population squandered natural resources at the rate of the average American.
“The deficit is growing larger and larger, yet there has been no real shakeup of the political system. Any delays in the annual date were accidental, not intentional. We observed an improvement during the oil shocks, the pandemic and the financial crises.”
– Véronique Andrieux, WWF director, France.
Today is the day when Italy runs out of biocapacity
Biocapacity is all that set of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, including co2 absorption that the territory is able to regenerate over 365 days.
Italy now, before the middle of the year, after 4 1/2 months, has already exhausted its resources for 2023, thus consuming those of the following year.
It’s a reasonably well-known term by now, hopefully, Overshoot Day, which reminds us how resources and the ecological crisis is not just a climate crisis, it’s not just a matter of greenhouse gas emissions, co2 emissions, co2 absorption capacity, but there are a number of services that in the ecological footprint are measured; The biologically productive land for example that a population needs to support daily activities.
We are not at the level of Qatar and Luxembourg – which in February already touched the bottom of their resources- in March it was the turn of the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada, but we are still very high in the ranking of countries that consume their resources most rapidly, and among them, the food sector is one of the key ones, almost 31 % of the ecological footprint, comes from there.
One figure out of all to understand why food is so impactful: almost 80 percent of the fields we cultivate are used to feed animals, which we then use to get protein.
GFN’s Laetitia Mailhes states:
“If we could cut meat consumption in half, we could move the overrun date by 17 days. Limiting food waste would shift the date by 13 days.”
Transportation makes another 25 percent. And yet another is food waste. Just think that halving food waste would allow us to gain as many as 13 days on the calendar.
Seven more years remain between now and 2030: it seems like a short time to think about solving the climate and social problems that human beings are already facing.
The choice is between doing nothing and waiting, or trying to improve, at least for ourselves.
The clock is ticking, and foundations such as Earth Overshooting Day punctuate it from year to year, certifying how inexorably the one available is dwindling.