This year, Earth Overshoot Day is Wednesday, Aug. 1. Earth Overshoot Day is the date when humans have used more natural resources than our planet can renew in one year, through activities like overfishing our oceans, overharvesting our forests and emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than our ecosystems can absorb.
By the end of 2018, humans will use 1.7 Earths, and Earth Overshoot Day is earlier and earlier every year.
Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biological capacity (Earth’s supply of ecological resources that year) by humanity’s ecological footprint (humanity’s demand for natural resources that year) and then multiplying that number by 365, the number of days in a year.
The day is an estimate and not an exact date. Humans cannot determine with 100 percent accuracy the day we will bust our ecological budget. However, every scientific model used to account for nature’s supply and humanity’s demand shows a consistent trend: we are well over our resource budget. Our debt is compounding, and the interest is devastating.
Concerns like erosion and pollution and events such as food shortages and droughts can have many unfortunate effects on our planet and its residents. They can harm our health, degrade our infrastructure and create civil unrest – to name only a few worldwide impacts.
The U.S. Army Reserve has a global presence, and relies on natural resources like energy, water and land to be ready and resilient. So, any threats to our natural resources are threats to our mission.
To protect our critical assets and “Move the Date” of Earth Overshoot Day, the Army Reserve implements numerous sustainability initiatives.
The Army Reserve promotes energy conservation, increases energy efficiency and invests in renewable energy. For instance, Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., generates more than 30 percent of its electricity from renewable technologies. Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, generates about 25 percent of its electricity from solar and wind power. The 63rd Readiness Division completed 21 LED projects at John Paul Gaffney Army Reserve Center in Garden Grove, Calif., for a projected savings of 7.5 million kilowatt hours across 3.6 million square feet of building space.
The Reserve leverages water conservation and alternative water projects to save resources. To that end, the 63rd Readiness Division has installed drought-tolerant xeriscapes to reduce irrigation at several Army Reserve Centers in California. Pilot projects at Army Reserve Centers in Grand Prairie, Texas and Savannah, Ga., harvest rainwater for vehicle wash and save an estimated 140,000 gallons and 200,000 gallons of potable water, respectively.
Here are some ways anyone can help:
~Reduce your energy use. Set thermostats to 68 degrees in the heating season and 78 degrees in the cooling season, where feasible in areas with high humidity.
~Turn the lights off when you leave a room. Power down and unplug electronics and appliances.
~Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LEDs generate as much light as incandescents, but consume less power, produce less heat and last 10 to 20 times longer than their less efficient counterparts.
~Conserve fuel and reduce driving
~Reduce use of hot water. Wash clothes in cold or warm, and wash only full loads of dishes and laundry. Take showers instead of baths.
~Reduce food waste and paper consumption
~Choose local foods, which reduces emissions and transportation costs and are fresher and more nutritious.