Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/27842
Earth Overshoot Day
End profit-driven climate destruction
Robert Sharkey, East London Socialist Party
'Earth Overshoot Day' - the day when every natural resource has been overconsumed to the point it could not recover within that year - has jumped forward almost three months in a decade.
Earth Overshoot Day 2018 was on 1 August. The Global Footprint Network thinktank has calculated it annually since 2007. It includes, for example, excess carbon dioxide emissions, as well as soil erosion, overfishing, deforestation and so on. Rather than tallying total pollution over time, it is a good indicator of the net rate of damage being done to the environment.
In the decade from 2007, Earth Overshoot Day jumped from 26 October to 2 August last year. Further, when the date is calculated on a per-country basis, the UK's overshoot day is 8 May!
The Global Footprint Network has developed accounting methods for management of resources, and offers advice to governments , corporations and individuals on how to reduce environmental damage by changing policy - to take sustainability more into account.
Although well-intentioned, one of the central focuses of the offshoot "#MoveTheDate" campaign falls into the trap of calling for individuals to "#MoveTheDate" by taking individual actions such as changing their diets. But most working class people cannot afford the time or money for 'carbon-neutral' lifestyles; and in any case, individual action does not address the source of the problem: big business and the profit system.
Any narrative that we are all individually responsible for the environmentalist crisis and should take action on that basis ultimately plays into the hands of the global ruling elite who have a vested interest in the status quo.
The evidence is clear that workers and the poor cannot shoulder the burden of ongoing damage to the environment. And that no substantial change is going to happen while the profits of big business set the agenda.
Mass action such as the People's Climate March in New York City in 2014 - which at the time was the biggest environmental march in human history - is important.
Similarly the mass mobilisations in Britain and across Europe against fracking in the past decade point the way to towards the kind of activism that can draw attention to environmental degradation and help to challenge the status quo of big business and the polluting industries.
What is needed is a fundamental break from the capitalist system which rewards exploitation of workers and the environment. The real solution to climate change is public ownership and workers' control of energy and the top corporations, linked to democratic, rational planning of the economy.
Only socialist change can ensure living standards will improve for all without damage to the environment.