- What is overshoot?
- What are signs of overshoot?
- How is climate change different from overshoot?
- Why don’t we then just change the amount we consume?
- Many environmentalists talk about reducing our our carbon emissions. Is that important?
- Is overpopulation really a problem?
- Can technology save us?
- How many people are we adding to the world every day?
- If we are consuming too much and there are too many people on our planet what will eventually happen?
What is overshoot?
Overshoot is when a species consumes resources and pollutes faster than the ecosystem in which it inhabits can replace those resources or absorb those wastes.
What are signs of overshoot?
Shrinking forests and habitat loss
Climate change due to increase CO2 content in atmosphere
Draining of lakes, rivers and aquifers
Erosion and nutrient depletion of our soils
Depletion of critical non renewable natural resources
Acid content in oceans increasing and getting worse
Widespread pollution of our air, land, and waterways
Massive species extermination
How is climate change different from overshoot?
Climate change is just one symptom (and a pretty big one) of a much larger disease called overshoot. Overshoot is the all encompassing threat to sustainability posed by too many people consuming too many resources and emitting to much waste.
Great question and we should. The challenges with achieving sustainability by focusing solely on consumption are threefold: 1) The magnitude of the reduction necessary. 2) Human behavior- most people want to eat better food, wear nice clothes, live in decent homes, use reliable electricity, have a better means of transportation, and travel and explore. 3) Our financial system which makes it very difficult to reduce overall consumption. When someone reduces their consumption of energy and materials in one area, they additionally realize a financial savings which invariably gets shifted to other areas of consumption of energy and materials. Click here for more details and to see what a sustainable lifestyle actually looks like. https://www.earthovershoot.org/what-we-do/footprint.html
Many environmentalists talk about reducing our our carbon emissions. Is that important?
It is only one of many environmental threats we face, but yes reducing carbon emissions is important! That is why we support both removal of carbon from the atmosphere as well as a carbon fee on consumption of it. We believe attributing the hidden costs of burning fossil fuels more directly to the consumer’s use of them will influence an individual’s decisions, not only on how much and what they consume, but more importantly on the number of children they have. Smaller families can help heal our planet’s multiple environmental problems faster and less expensively than any other green policies. The challenge is fossil fuel runs over 80% of our current economy and increasing fees on fossil fuel use will increase the costs of all the goods and services that people use on a daily basis.
Based on current world affluence or wealth times the number of people on the earth, measurements indicate humans as a species are far exceeding earth’s ability to provide us the necessary resources without adverse effects to all living creatures. In fact we would need to reduce global wealth and economic activity by half if we are going to live sustainably and allow for the abundance and diversity of life to flourish. Getting people to reduce their wealth voluntarily to a sustainable level is not happening. In fact world bank data cites a 4% average annual growth of the world economy (GDP) since 1961, so we must be honest and address this reality, and the environmental benefits that come from growing smaller gracefully.
Can technology save us?
Technology advancements are great and can help lessen our impact on the environment for whatever that technology was created for, but there are consequences that many smart people don't account for. The challenges with technology long term are they often mask, delay, compound and intensify the underlying problems they were meant to solve. When technologies produce savings and efficiencies, they create greater prosperity for those individuals and businesses that adopt them, and through a positive feedback they actually generate greater global growth into the reserves that sustain us.
How many people are we adding to the world every day?
The world adds a net 220,000 new people every day all needing and desiring food, shelter, clothing, housing, electricity, transportation and many other goods and services. It is the equivalent of filling Beaver Stadium, in Penn State (the second largest stadium in the U.S.) twice a day with new babies every day all year long.
If we are consuming too much and there are too many people on our planet what will eventually happen?
If we continue to ignore the problem then eventually nature will force it upon us, perhaps unexpectedly or violently. The signs are all around us that the planet and nature are exhibiting immense stress. Many highly regarded independent scientists and academicians we personally have spoken with and interviewed state by by the second half of this century implications for a correction in global energy availability that drives our civilization are undeniable. By 2100 ocean acidification will reach levels that will drastically alter whatever sea life is left at the time, global warming will wreak havoc on land and in the sea, the lands will be devoid of most forests and animals will be regularly going extinct. Humans will be unable to use land that has been transformed by salt water intrusion or live in areas devoid of nature, fresh water, and fertile soils. Humans as well as all earth’s creatures will suffer greatly unless we forthrightly acknowledge these crises and take serious steps to prevent them.