This year’s Earth Overshoot Day has moved back to the pre-pandemic date, suggesting a return to business- as-usual. We are accelerating the depletion of the planet’s ecosystems on which every economy depends. This puts all countries at risk, particularly those who are already ecologically overextended, like the Netherlands. However, actionable ways exist to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day, not just to combat the climate and biodiversity crisis, but also to protect one’s own country, city, or business. This will also be explored in a new research partnership with Wageningen University. From January 1st until today, humanity has used as much from nature as the planet is able to regenerate during this entire year: today is Earth Overshoot Day. Overshoot is the underlying cause of most environmental ills from biodiversity loss to deforestation, water and air pollution, fisheries collapse, and greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, leading to ever wilder weather patterns. Human demand persistently overwhelming the biosphere may be the second most severe challenge humanity is facing in the 21st century. The challenge imposed by overshoot is only topped by one other: the risk of not responding. Tragically, most cities, corporations, and countries –including the Netherlands– are exposing themselves to this risk. According to National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts, based on the latest UN statistics, which also determine Earth Overshoot Day, the residents of the Netherlands use 6.2 times more from nature than Dutch ecosystems can regenerate. It is like using 6.2 Netherlands. 70% of that difference is attributed to carbon emissions from fossil fuel use. Furthermore, Dutch net-imports for food are significant: Dutch food consumption exceeds the regenerative capacity of Dutch agricultural and marine areas by over 90%. This means that the Netherlands are only able to grow about half of the amount of food its residents consume. “It is unclear whether the Netherlands has the resolve to prepare itself adequately for the predictable future of climate change and resource constraints” said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network. “While good efforts exist in the Netherlands such as boosting thermal efficiency of houses or giving preference to bicycles as a dominant mode of transportation, the country overall is still far from being one-planet compatible.” Many solutions are available to radically decarbonize energy systems in a timely fashion. What is less clear is how the Dutch and the whole of humanity can feed themselves within planetary constraints. Given this knowledge gap, Global Footprint Network is excited to announce a four-year research collaboration with the Circular Food Systems research group at Wageningen University starting this fall. The goal of this new partnership is to explore ways to feed all of humanity within the ecological budget of our planet. Solutionsmap: https://movethedate.overshootday.org/
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