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Earth Overshoot Day 2016

Earth Overshoot Day falls on August 8 this year, five days sooner than last year and 11 days sooner than in 2014. Which actually rather contradicts the official press release, which states that the date has moved up by an average of less than one day per year for the past five years, and there doesn’t seem to have ever been a time when such a statement was true. Works only if you compare 2010 to 2014, but that’s actually a period of four years and is entirely thanks to the six-day improvement in 2011, so it’d have been a case of really struggling to find a silver lining that’s not actually there even then.
Then again, doing that seems to be the general rule for that press release, and probably for the group calculating and promoting this concept in general. Even the way it’s calculated is probably quite optimistic, leaving some important factors aside and likely not taking the other species we share this planet with and what’d need to be done to fix the damage already caused into account anywhere near as much as they should. But it’s not like they’re trying to sell perfumed shit as chocolate and this is just a rough estimate, after all, setting a date being a little stunt meant to give the issue at least a tiny bit of media and public attention, so this is just their way to say there’s still some hope, probably struggling to convince themselves of it as much as others. Still, the way WWF Romania’s Program Director ended the message he posted today seems far more fitting to me: “Unless something urgently changes, it’s not actions we’ll need, but miracles…”

Not that there was ever a time when we needed anything less than miracles, in fact. A few people noticed what was happening and what needed to be done even centuries ago, and possibly even longer, but they were silenced, discredited or simply ignored, and this scenario repeated itself even after it may have appeared that somewhat greater numbers were starting to wake up to the devastating impact human actions and numbers have on the environment in the ’60s and ’70s, those concerns being buried in the ’80s. And then any apparent reawakening at higher levels in the ’90s and ’00s was largely limited to somewhat nice but empty words. As for recent years, all right, a few things may just be starting to move in a direction that’s not quite the opposite of the right one, but it’s much too little, much too slow and much too late.

Again, the first problem is that there are about seven and a half billion of us and yet this issue is the elephant in the room that can’t be tackled in any efficient manner because everybody, including many of those who otherwise claim to care for the environment, lashes out at anyone who dares to even try to bring it and the measures that actually need to be taken in order to solve it in any even remotely reasonable amount of time up. And that’s despite the fact that we use and damage so much even though the large majority live in poor conditions and if we were to offer everyone a good standard of living, even if we would reduce the consumption of the few who actually overconsume to the same fair level, we’d need about three planets instead of the 1.6 or so we do now, and that’s without taking fixing the damage already caused into account.
And the second problem is that money are the resource that’s usually taken into consideration, despite being a completely artificial human invention, with absolutely no value outside human society and having precisely the value society chooses to grant it within… While the real resources and the real costs, expressed in time and attention, illness and death, stress and exhaustion, pollution and toxicity, habitat destruction and species extinction, biodiversity loss and overall environmental degradation, our long-term future and that of the other species we share this planet with, are usually shrugged off. I mean, you just have to hear or read that it’s cheaper to produce new things than to repair, reuse or recycle, or to build them to last from the start, or that the level of production and consumption must be maintained, or in fact constantly increased, in order for people to have jobs they supposedly “need to survive”, and it’s obvious how absurd it all is.

But, after all: “That does seem to be the rule, doesn’t it? Analyze the problem, choose whichever strategy makes least sense and then do it.”
Or, to quote a recent article by Paul Watson: “Do we really want the epitaph for our species to be, ‘Well we needed the jobs?'” According to everything we as a species and society do, apparently so…


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