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Our view on Earth Overshoot Day: the time to improve your energy use is now

Posted by Sam Tonge on 3 August 2017 at 5:20 pm

Update: Earth Overshoot Day occurred on 1st August 2018 - the earliest date in the year since the assessment began. 

Calculations by international research organisation Global Footprint Network show that our yearly Earth Overshoot Day occurred on 2nd August in 2017. This annual milestone is the date within the year that we have used more of our natural resources than our planet can renew within that time. Traditionally an overshoot refers to the moment when a population consumes more resources than the environment can provide, however this international research charity has adapted this concept to fit within the timescale of one year. Helpfully they have also developed an interactive tool to calculate your global, national and even individual footprint on the earth’s resources needed to support your lifestyle.

This annual calculation is a valuable opportunity to reflect that for the rest of this year, we will be in an uncomfortable state of ecological debt, calling into question how much longer we can continue using our natural resources at the current rate. Especially considering that the earth’s annual Overshoot Day has slowly crept forward from occurring each November in the late-1980s to its earliest ever point in early-August this year.

Here at YouGen, we are of course keen to point out that carbon emissions form an enormous 60% of the earth’s total Ecological Footprint. This shows that increasing the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources is a prime way of reducing our impact on the planet, helping us push the date back in future years.

Adopting renewable energy begins at home, with technologies such as solar panels providing a clean and guilt-free means by which to power your home. However in becoming more sustainable, it’s important to take a fabric-first approach, by identifying how to reduce the heat demand of your home. Draught-proofing is a proven method of conserving energy, improving your personal comfort whilst potentially lowering your heating bills. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out our information pages and database of recommended installers.

However we do appreciate here at YouGen that these solutions are not open to everyone, so we also advocate the importance of behavioural change. Saving energy by modifying your personal habits can make an impact in reducing your own Carbon Footprint. Quick wins include not leaving appliances on standby, using energy-saving LED lightbulbs and learning about your consumption from smart meter data. Such simple measures can make a big difference when implemented  together, and just imagine the enormous impact we could make if everybody did the same.

Reducing the carbon portion of our global Ecological Footprint by 50% would get us from consuming the equivalent resources of 1.7 Earths down to 1.2 Earths annually. This would effectively push back the annual Earth Overshoot Day by 89 days, or almost three months each year. It’s very clear that the time to act is now, in whatever way you can, to reduce your consumption and improve your energy efficiency.

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen.

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About the author:

Sam has contributed to our blog since 2016 and previously worked for the National Energy Foundation.

He became interested in green energy after completing a degree in Geography (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London. 

Sam is passionate about renewable energy and is committed to spreading the word about the role it plays in delivering environmental sustainability. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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