Earth Overshoot Day and Me

Jane Kelly reflects on what Earth Overshoot Day might have meant in her life if she actually factored the consequences of living beyond our limits.

Ask anyone who knows me, I am a task-oriented person. As I grow older, I am learning to enjoy the process, take time to discuss the possibilities, sit with ideas, and be comfortable with slowing down. But deep down, action drives me. The reason I tell you this is to set the scene for how I initially approached Common Grace’s Creation and Climate Justice prayer vigil on 22 March and my role within the team coordinating it.

About a month ago, I rang Luke Vassella to ask if he would be willing to contribute to the prayer vigil through music worship. We pick up the conversation after Luke has graciously agreed.

“Great, so the vigil is on Monday 22nd March. We are connecting with Earth Overshoot Day, which in Australia will land on 22nd March this year,” I enthusiastically reply.

“22nd March?” Luke repeats. Then there is silence at the other end of the phone… “That’s terrible,” he says quietly.

And for the first time, it really hits me. Caught up in the flurry of activity generated by the task of preparing the prayer vigil, I completely missed the absolute horror of what it means when we say Australians have used up our annual allotted share of the world’s resources by 22 March 2021.

Later that evening, I let the weight of 22 March rest upon me. I thought about what my life would look like if, when we reached our annual allocation of resources, the year just ended for us…

Previous Earth Overshoot Days[1]

17 November 1976: In the year I was born I would not have celebrated my first Christmas, or any future Christmases

10 October 1994: The year would have concluded before I sat my Year 12 HSC exams

1 September 2004: My first child would not have been born

4 August 2010: Although my third child would have been born in 2009, due to the 11-day leap forward within the subsequent 12 months, we would not have celebrated his first birthday

Keep in mind that these dates are the global Overshoot Days. If the awful 5-month chasm between this year’s global Earth Overshoot Day on 22 August and Australia’s own date of 22 March is any indication of how Australia has performed historically, I think it’s fair to assume I would not have celebrated my own birthday or wedding anniversary, both in June, for many years or that my second or third children would have been born either.

And while this is a rather egocentric way of connecting with a global day marking humanity’s horrific excesses, it does lead me to think, what are the real consequences facing us and younger generations? And how do we respond?

My task-oriented self wants to rapidly launch into action; what can I do to fix this problem? Too slowly have I learnt that before rushing into a flurry of activity, my first true action is prayer. From this all other responses then flow. And why is that? One of my favourite authors, Philip Yancey succinctly states the reason: “(Prayer is) a realignment of everything. I pray to restore the truth of the universe, to gain a glimpse of the world, and of me, through the eyes of God.”[2]

I hope that you will join with me on Monday 22 March as we realign our ourselves and view everything, including our cry for creation and climate justice, through God’s eyes.


Register to participate in the online event at 8pm AEDT on March 22nd here and receive the zoom link via email.



[2] Philip Yancey “Prayer. Does it make any difference?” Hodder & Stoughton, 2006


Jane lives in Western Sydney with her husband Simon and their three children, Elise, Finn and Eamon. Her time is currently shared between serving her local community and with the Common Grace Creation and Climate Justice Team. Her studies include theology, ministry, ethics and legal studies. Jane is a passionate follower of Jesus and her relationship with Him is inherent in her response to pursuing Kingdom Justice. Jane’s other passions are Australian music, the GWS Giants AFL Team, and listening to (way too many) Australian political podcasts.

Online Prayer Vigil for Earth Overshoot Day