Sapped, spent and washed out: We have depleted the Earth

Earth Overshoot Day 2020 is three weeks later than 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the consumption of natural resources is still far too high.



Laura Angelstorf, Editor

In an age of limitless growth, who would have expected that Earth Overshoot could come three weeks late? On last year’s Earth Overshoot Day, 29 July 2019, this was unimaginable. But it has happened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a circumstance that many of us would like to make a thing of the past. Yet even with the pandemic Switzerland only gained one day, already having used up its natural resources by 8 May 2020 (compared to 7 May in 2019). You can find more countries here.

The coronavirus pandemic proves that global problems can be solved globally

Surely, the coronavirus pandemic is not yet over. The coming winter will show how well we manage the new disease. The first wave in spring 2020 imposed restrictions on governments, societies and the economy that resulted in COVID-19 being contained, in most places, to a controllable level. Incidentally, requirements to work from home (when possible), various curfews, the cessation of travel and the cancellation of major events have allowed the earth to breathe a little.

When did we use up our natural resources? Comparison between 1970 and today.

Less logging, petrol and kerosene = less CO2

Earth Overshoot Day examines our ecological footprint, dividing it into categories of consumption, mobility, nutrition and housing. Two main trends are responsible for postponing the Earth Overshoot Day in 2020: far less CO2 was emitted from burning fossil fuels (mobility), and wood consumption has decreased globally (consumption/living).

The smaller the ecological footprint, the more likely it is that our biodiversity will be protected. Forest, countryside and mountain ecosystems are of enormous importance not only for nature and animals, but also for mankind.According to the UN, around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests as a vital resource. Another 1 billion depend on agricultural land. Moreover, mountains provide us with 60­–80% of our fresh water. This provides reason enough to prioritise the protection of these treasures as global goal: the UN Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) 15 for protecting life on land.

Organic farming enables healthy people in a healthy environment

Biovision supports SDG 15 in its work by promoting sustainable agriculture through agroecology. In contrast to conventional agriculture, sustainable agriculture contributes to the reduction of climate-damaging emissions.

In the project Reviving Traditional Knowledge in Kenya, Biovision and its partner organisation, the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE), are committed to the preservation of biodiversity, culture and the environment.
The unpredictability of the weather plus continuing population growth make agriculture and life on Mount Kenya more and more difficult. The overuse of the forests has changed the ecosystem dramatically: forests no longer act as water reservoirs and protect against erosion. With training in sustainable and drought-resistant farming methods and the development of new economic sectors, such as beekeeping, farmers are learning to cope with the challenging conditions, their harvests are being secured, the soil and forests are being protected and alternative sources of income are being developed.

Our ecological footprint must be reduced

We can draw the following important conclusion from the coronavirus experience: with determination, it is possible to reduce the ecological footprint permanently. Each and every individual can contribute. Let us take part and demand this goal from political actors as well!