Today, August 2, marks the date of this year’s “Overshoot day” and the environmental association Zero revealed this week that as of today, humanity reaches the limit of resources available for this year. The date marks earlier and earlier, including earlier than last year 2016, dated August 8. According to Zero, the last year that humankind respected the “annual natural budget”, bringing the planet’s existing resources to the whole year, was almost 50 years ago, in the year 1970.
Zero also underlines the importance of Portugal’s ecological footprint, noting that more than one planet would be needed if all countries reached Portuguese levels. “If all countries had the same ecological footprint as us, it would take 2.3 planets”, they said.
For Zero environmentalists, food consumption (32% of the country’s overall footprint) and mobility (18%) are the daily human activities that contribute most to the ecological footprint in our country. “In a world where vast inequality in terms of income distribution and access to natural resources persists, these data are clear about the need to produce and consume in a very different way”, they argue.
The call of “Overshoot day”, when resources run out, “tells us that we are pushing the boundaries of the planet more and more intensely, a trend that is urgent to change for the good of humanity and its quality of life”, Zero’s representatives explain.
Among Zero’s various proposals to reduce the environmental deficit is the focus on a circular economy, where “resource use and re-use is maximized” and which, according to environmentalists, should be “a priority across all public policies”. “The focal point should be the reduction in the use of materials, the promotion of reuse and the extension of the lifetimes of goods and equipment. To be effective, we will have to change the ‘use and throw away’ paradigm, which is based on recycling, incineration and landfilling, into a ‘less but better quality’ paradigm”, the association argues.
The promotion of a healthier and more sustainable diet, with a reduction in the consumption of animal protein and a significant increase in the consumption of vegetables, fruits and dried legumes, is another of Zero’s proposals. “It will bring enormous benefits to everyone’s health and a significant reduction of the environmental impact associated with food”, environmentalists stress, noting that in Portugal this will mean an approximation of the Portuguese food balance to what is advocated in the food standard of the food chain.
Zero also proposes the promotion of sustainable mobility based on different strategies, such as improving access and the conditions under which public transport operates, providing conditions and infrastructures to stimulate “smooth mobility” and sharing of transport.
“Avoiding environmental credit cards is an investment in our well-being and quality of life. Living with full respect for the generous boundaries of planet Earth is the only way to ensure a better future for all”, they defend.