Environmental campaigners claim that Monday 29 July marks the date at which we'll have used more of the Earth's resources than we can put back.
It’s many years since retailers first worked out that there’s a cut-off date each year after which every penny they put in the till effectively becomes pure profit. It’s the day on which they know that all the money they’ve taken since January 1 will cover their costs for the entirety of the 12 month period; after that, the money goes in their (or more likely their shareholders’) pockets.
The day itself is a bit of a moveable feast — it depends on where weekends and Christmas falls and so on, and online shopping has complicated things — but generally speaking the cut-off day falls in late November, around Black Friday. (Black Friday derives originally from this — the black refers to the shops being ‘in the black’ from that date onwards.)
Friends of the Earth has made a similar calculation, but instead of working out profits they’ve calculated the point of the year at which Mankind has already used more of the planet’s resources for the year than he’s put back.
They’re calling it ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, and rather depressingly it falls not in late November but today: Monday July 29th.
‘This isn’t an overdraft we can dip into and pay back’
‘Today marks the date that all of earth’s natural resources will be used up for the year – overshooting what can be replenished by more than five months,’ the Friends of the Earth statement reads. They go on to depress us still further by pointing out that Overshoot Day has come a couple of days earlier this year than it was in 2018, and four days earlier than it was in 2017.
And just to hammer the point home, Friends of the Earth campaigner Aaron Kiely then adds that ‘today is a warning about how wrong we are currently getting things’ because ‘this isn’t an overdraft we can dip into and pay back.’
How accurate is their calculation? It’s clearly impossible to say, without a University research department and several years’ budget at our disposal. Let’s just say that given their status as a high-profile pressure group it’s highly unlikely they’ve low-balled it to be on the safe side.
But even if it were the case that Earth Overshoot Day is the environmentalists’ version of Boris Johnson’s £350m a week Vote Leave campaign bus, it’s still a stark warning that we should take in earnest.
Thankfully (and just as well since they’re called Friends of the Earth rather than Doom-mongers of the Earth) the message finishes on a message of hope:
‘We know what the solutions are so it’s time to be hopeful and bold and grab the opportunity to make a positive difference while we still can.’
We know we’ve caused global warming, but we can stop making it worse, says John Gummer, chair of the Climate
The Queen shows she's still capable of wielding a spade, why gorillas throw parties, bad news for Britain's most famous