Today is Earth Overshoot Day

Today I received this overdraft notice from the Global Footprint Network. The notice starts as follows:

On August 21, we exceed nature’s budget

It has taken humanity less than nine months to exhaust its ecological budget for the year, according to Global Footprint Network calculations.

Today, humanity reaches Earth Overshoot Day: the day of the year in which human demand on the biosphere exceeds what it can regenerate. As of today, humanity has demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can regenerate this year.  For the rest of the year, we will meet our ecological demand by depleting resource stocks and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned,” said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages are all clear signs: We can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing.”

I would like to invite all of you who read this entry to sit still for a few moments and allow this message to sink in. How does it feel your body – in that most precious part of nature that is your most intimate home – to know that the greater body of the civilisation, of which you are an utterly interdependent part, is careening over a precipice and taking you (and an awful lot else besides) with it?

How shall we witness this unsung event without also letting in the folly of our own denial that we, as part of the problem, are uniquely empowered to be part of the solution?

How do you begin to pay off such a huge debt? The answer is: cent by cent. Step by step – shaving away at our use of unnecessary resources, moment by moment asking ourselves questions like “Do I really need this? Do I really need to consume this resource? Can I use it twice? Can I turn this waste into a resource elsewhere in my system?” Of course, as is the case with all habits, before we can do this we must wake up sufficiently to even think of asking such questions.

Some really simple suggestions of things to do that can make a difference:

  • Eat an egg, instead of a chicken
  • Recycle your grey water through your toilets
  • Cycle, walk or take the bus instead of the car
  • Leave the bees to enjoy the flowers in your lawn rather than running the lawnmower (bugger what the neighbours think!)
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift
  • Grow some of your own vegetables
  • Buy organic
  • Break the supermarket habit, and buy only what your local shops have to offer
  • Sign up for the 10:10 campaign
  • Look for a transition initiative near you

So my question to you now is: What will be your first next step in waking up to your power to make a difference to our footprint on this planet? Please feel free to share your commitments in the comments box below.

About iyeshe

Woman returning to the wild. Cunning linguist, mother of twins, witch, host, harvester, spaceholder for the dawning Aquarian age, evolutionary wooden-spoon wielder, self-mitigating carbon footprint, wannabe holon in the forthcoming collective buddha...
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7 Responses to Today is Earth Overshoot Day

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Today is Earth Overshoot Day | Integral Yeshe --

  2. emil says:

    – Have all your money at Triodos, the world’s most sustainable bank

    – Write a farewell letter to your current money/investment etc shop & publish it publicly where you can, off and on line

    – Ask questions that matter anywhere, anytime

    – Take risks being politically incorrect, blunt, frank, honest, caring after having searched your soul

    – Pay the groceries for the person in front of you once every month

    – Organize / join a carrot mob

    – Read about zero point energy and understand zero emission & small overall footprint energy in your home, car, office, ipod, factory, plane has been possible for 150 yrs. With sufficient public awareness, it can become main stream. Exciting stuff for a rainy Sunday afternoon. See blog posting at Renaissance2 ning site

    – Join TransitionTravels for a day of shifting yourself aka the whole, experiencing sustaianabilty, rather than continuing talking about it. Bring friends. During start up phase (next half yr) @ cost price = 50 eur

    – Laugh like a thunder at the paradox that when we don’t start acting as if we cared, we’re up shit alley there’s nothing to do

  3. Andrew says:

    Love what you’re doing Yeshe. The image lingers from reading Heat (George Monbiot) that riding your bicycle into Denver along the freeway wasn’t going to make much difference to the CO2 produced. It’s collective action that’s needed.

    But working to shift the whole, and that might involve biking along the freeway, will make a difference. If you’ve been washing your plastic bags for 30 years you know that we don’t have time for the micro-acts to add up – it’s the wrong math. it’s the whole that needs to shift together.

    It’s another order that needs to change. But you know that and write it beautifully.

    • iyeshe says:

      Ah yes, Andrew – I love, by the way! – shifting the whole. If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs, you’ll know that I believe that the deepest support we’re getting for shifting the whole is actually being provided by the kosmos itself, whose deepest energetic impulse has now evolved towards a call to its conscious creatures to co-create with the All-That-Is.

      Humans are not radically individual, the way those of us who look only at surfaces (regrettably that includes the mainstream scientific establishment) might believe. At best we can be likened to mushrooms, which are the surface manifestations that sprout from a pervasive mycelium under the soil. And the mycelium itself adheres to a deeper, subtle pattern that listens to, and aligns with, that deepest cosmic impulse. Individuals everywhere are experiencing a growing cognitive and emotional dissonance between the gaudy braying messages we are receiving from the tired and cynical capitalist elite that runs our status quo, and the longings in their own souls for a more meaningful and connected, grounded life.

      So we who are pushing and pulling and calling for transition are not swimming against the tide as much as we think. We are among the first of the transgenic mushrooms to break the surface and start living our lives according to that different drum, emanates not from the body social and politic, but from the fount of our deepest allegiance, the immanent world soul. We don’t need to sit and strategise about how on earth we are going to persuade all these other mushrooms around us to up and change their spots. That’s not how nature works, and our intelligence would be pretty dysfunctional if it got no further than that. We simply need to openly, committedly, joyfully explore what it means to live to the full in this new and radically more co-creative collective way.

  4. Emil says:

    firstly: Helen, your wisdom, angle, style, use of language and commitment are a beacon for me

    secondly: to the extend a node (mushroom) moves early (rather than merely talks about), it experiences a stronger longing for satsanga (see Robin Wood on this on

    to me, the extend nodes can deal with greater differences between desired and experienced satsanga, the more it’s available in the genesis of the next Buddha

    social media might have a role to play, see my comment on ; what do you think?

    • iyeshe says:

      Hi Emil – the appreciation is mutual, believe me!!
      I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘dealing with greater differences between desired and experienced satsanga’ – could you elaborate a bit more?
      As for social media, I absolutely agree that they have a role to play. I cannot begin to express how much I owe to the internet in its many manifestations for my own personal development, learning, sangha and many other things besides.
      However, bearing in mind the kind of energy-intensive, hyper-complex infrastructure that is needed in order to keep our internet up and running, as well as supply us with the computers and gizmos that we need for production and access, I am not convinced that we can take for granted that it will always be with us. My inquiry in that case is how we can use it while we have it to bootstrap our collective consciousness to a place where humanity can remain globally connected even after the current manifestation of surface-level and highly destructive and divisive globalisation has imploded and left us as isolated islands again…

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