This is the day that humanity’s demands for ecological resources (fish, forests, fresh water etc), exceeds what the Earth can renew in a year.
That day has been getting earlier every year since we started calculating it.
Graph shows the day on which humans use up all the resources which Earth can replenish each year. In 1970 we were using slightly less than was be replenished. For the last few years we have overshot the Earth’s ability to replenish by late July.
I was born in 1970, the last year that humanity lived sustainably on God’s good Earth.
Ever since, humans, at least the rich ones in rich nations, have been living like the Prodigal Son. Taking the family’s resources and wasting them.
Humans lived within their means on the land now called Australia for 60,000 years or so. But just a few centuries since invasion, we have become the worst prodigal on Earth- we are the wealthiest nation per capita, with one of the highest ecological footprints, and the highest per capita carbon emissions.
If all nations lived like us, Earth Overshoot Day would be on March 31st!
So as we head towards the global mass mobilisation on September 20th, we invite you to pause on Monday July 29th to sit with the reality that every day after that we are eating into the resources of the other creatures around us, and generations yet to come. Share that reality with your networks.
We invite your congregations to join with the initiative of the Anglican Churches in Queensland by tolling your bells, if you have them in the lead up to midday. Twelve chimes for the just under twelve years we have left to take drastic action to reduce our emissions*.
Tell - others in the community why you are doing this, through your local media, Church news, and online.
Organise to gather with tens of thousands of others on September 20th, in the global call for climate action. We'll keep talking about this over the next months and provide ways to help your church get involved. Put it in your diary now and start to plan.
Pray together on Sunday 28th, for our prodigal nation to come to its senses, and repent and return to the family. Use or adapt the following prayer if it’s helpful:
in whom all things live and move and have their being.
tomorrow we overshoot the capacity of your good garden to replenish itself
tomorrow we start to use the inheritance of future generations
tomorrow the rich take even more from the poor
tomorrow we make it harder for our animal neighbours to be fruitful and multiply
open our eyes to the beauty of your Earth
open our mouths to speak up for the future
open our ears to cry of those seeking liberation and equality
open our hearts, inflame our passion, replenish our courage
as we walk the Way of Jesus together
(Jason John, public domain)
You might also use some of this liturgy prepared by Rev. Deborah Bird.
A few churches in Brisbane will be tolling their bells, next year they hope to be joined by many others.
*Last October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. It is now closer to 11 years.
In May, another United Nations report suggested we are heading towards the extinction of one million species.
Jason John is the Common Grace Climate Justice Lead Campaigner volunteer and works with the Uniting Church on environmental advocacy.