A new Ecological Footprint calculator has just been launched in time for EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY which this year is August 2nd. Earth overshoot day is a calculation of the date each year at which a year’s supply of the earth’s sustainable resources has been fully used. Current global use of resources means that 1.7 planets would be required to sustain current human population long-term.
The sophisticated new calculator can be quickly used to find out one’s personal ecological impact on the earth. I was shocked to discover that my own life style, in particular my flights to see my family in England four times a year, locate my personal Earth Overshoot Day as early as April 21, much earlier than the global average. To sustain lifestyles of my type would need 3.3 planets! 5.6 ‘global hectares’ (the land and resource unit on which the ecological footprint is based) are needed to support just me, modest though I assume my thrifty living in an affluent society to be. According to the calculator, I am responsible for adding 10.6 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere annually. This comprises about 65% of my entire ecological footprint. By fathering only two children, I at least avoided compounding the problem by contributing to more than replacement level of the human population, though the lifestyles of both my sons are not my personal responsibility!
The website offers many ways in which individuals can lower their impact and push back their Earth Overshoot Day. It invites people to pledge to make some effort to do this and to publicise the new Ecological Footprint calculator.