Posts Tagged ‘ecology’

SLOW DOWN!!! Earth Overshoot Day

desert bare

This red-letter day each year comes around on a different date…and I am bummed it is so early in 2019…July 29! In this case, RED letter is bad news.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day—the day the scales tip OUT of our favor. This is the day that humans have used up the maximum resources that the earth can replenish in a year. Starting tomorrow, we are digging too deeply, past what can be renewed. This day is creeping up earlier every year—just a few years ago we hit this point in mid-October. Now it is in July.


We keep getting more efficient at screwing ourselves up!

Most often, in life, it is beneficial to be ahead of schedule for things — better than the alternative, being late. Well, when it comes to annually using up our world’s resources, the early bird doesn’t get the worm…the early bird probably only gets hungry, and thirsty, and hot…

…very hot.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. The Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for, and supply of, natural resources and ecological services, and at some point on the calendar, we get to the point where we are in a deficit compared to what can be provided, so we are technically chipping away resources, increasing tonnage of waste, exhausting the supply of potable water and fertile land, and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In banking terms, we are drawing down the earth’s principal rather than responsibly living off the interest.

Ecological overshoot is a non-sustainable way of life and possible for only a limited period of time before we degrade the system so far that we end up with water shortages, desertification, soil erosion, reduced cropland activity, overgrazing, rapid species extinction, collapse of fisheries, and increased carbon concentration…sound familiar?


Our global overshoot has more than doubled since 1961. According to Global Footprint Network, we are now living large, literally, as it would take much more than our single Earth to actually support our current consumption, and predictions state we would require two entire planets to support our usage trends by mid-century. Use THIS TOOL to calculate your own personal ecological footprint, and see, if everyone lived like YOU, how many Earths we would need to support that kind of life. It can be shocking.

Only 14% of our world lives in countries with more biocapacity than usage footprint, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Chile, and Brazil. The United States is squarely in the not-so-happy red zone, using more natural resources than we can possibly provide.


Here are some ideas to #MoveTheDate (trying to push the date we move into the red zone LATER on the calendar)

THAT would be progress, and YOU can definitely play a large part!

Happy Earth Day/Birth Day

1231980_76813417It was on Earth Day in 2009 that I launched this blog, with a simple message:


This seems the perfect day to launch the new CHANGE BY DOING blog, a destination where you’ll find news and updates on volunteer travel, voluntourism, and service travel opportunities and ideas around the world.

Check in to dip into the well for inspiration, find out what others are doing to help, and answer the question for yourself, “I wonder if I could…?”

You can

The world is an incredible place–You should go there.

So, so, so much has happened since then. I hope for you that the place on the road where you find yourself is more satisfying than where you were five years ago. Some of it will have sucked, but hopefully there are victories and proud moments and people wonderfully affected by your presence along the way. 

Earth Day is kind of like that. It’s been marked on calendars since the 1970s, and some of what has happened to the planet has sucked, but along the way there have been some wins. Our greater global awareness gives us a clearer picture of the troubles our planet faces, but also empowers us to act with greater understanding and make a difference.

In the 1970s, Dennis Hayes, one of the primary organizers of Earth Day, said, “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” An article in LIFE magazine proclaimed: “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Others assured us we would trigger an ice age before the end of the 20th century, and that entire continents would be arid dustbowls. Well–there are certainly regions of Africa where unimaginable drought has decimated wildlife and human lifestyle…entire nations wrestle with food and water insecurity…nobody looks at the air quality in urban China with the same jokesy “ain’t it bad and oh-so-brown” humor we once saved for Burbank…but clearly we’ve begun turning the ship, albeit slowly. There is so much to do, but not by ignoring what we have done. Whether the ecology glass is half full or half empty is irrelevant–what we know is it can be filled some more.

Celebrate your progress today, on Earth Day, and find places where you have barriers to making better choices for the planet. We all have changes we can make to take a little less out of our resources…to leave a little more for the next generation.

My Nez Perce Native American friends in Idaho have a way of living and making tribal decisions that are based not on how action taken today will affect us, but how it will affect those who will be here seven generations from now. Major actions are done for those seven generations hence. If we do this, what will it do to or for our great, great, great, great, great, grandchildren? This, like every other thing they have taught me about this earth, is a nice way to look at it.


November 13,14,15 Green Festival


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, grab your calendar and make a date for this weekend’s San Francisco Green Festival November 13-15. The event is each day from noon until 7PM at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center.

Your day at the fest will be like a walk through a sustainable community. The organization describes it like this: “It begins with finding solutions to help make our lives healthier—socially, economically, and environmentally. Individuals along with business and community leaders come together to discuss critical issues that impact us at home and abroad. Organizations and businesses showcase programs and products that restore the planet and all that inhabit it. Neighbor-to-neighbor connections are formed, and skills are shared to empower people to create positive change in the world.

Join us at the nation’s premier sustainability event, where you will see the best in green. Enjoy more than 125 renowned authors, leaders, and educators; great how-to workshops; cutting-edge films; fun activities for kids; organic beer and wine; delicious vegetarian cuisine; and diverse live music. Shop in our unique marketplace of more than 350 eco-friendly businesses—everything from all-natural body care products and organic cotton clothing to Fair Trade gifts and beautiful kitchen tiles made from renewable resources.

See the most recent developments in renewable energy and green technology; sample Fair Trade chocolate and coffee (yes, they really do taste better); and learn how to invest in your community, green your home and avoid products made in sweatshops.

  • Green Festival is the largest sustainability event in the world and continues to grow year after year. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival is the only green event that screens exhibitors for their commitment to sustainability, ecological balance and social justice using Green America’s green business standards. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival offsets 100% of its electricity emissions with clean, renewable energy. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival walks its talk: each year it gets closer to being a zero-waste event. Click here to learn more.