Happy Earth Overshoot Day!
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
‘Eh?’ Would be a totally understandable reaction to this statement. The only anniversary that gets earlier every year as we just can’t wait to get there to celebrate this auspicious occasion. So, what is it? The planet triumphing at overshooting its potential, going beyond what is deemed possible, a big ‘look at me!’ to the rest of the supposedly barren solar system? If only, quite the opposite. It is the day when “we will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year”. This statement alone is pretty scary, the fact that it is getting earlier and earlier every year is genuinely terrifying.
The first recorded Overshoot Day was in 1970, December 29th from which this trend began; there was an initial fightback in the mid-70’s, almost pushing it back to December again and followed by another good few years in the early 80’s, but bar the odd year of a couple of days’ improvement the pattern is clear. One positive to take is that the advancement is slowing down – since 2010 the anniversary held firm at early August, before slipping to end of July in 2018 and again holding station this year – scant consolation indeed, but perhaps a sign that we are starting to take back control of the runaway climate change train.
Technological innovations and joined up thinking are perhaps only making a small difference now but their cumulative, long term impact could be far greater and further reaching. We have to be innovative, but we also need to get back to basics; there’s a call for more wind power, not just offshore but interestingly onshore too, such is the impact of recent policies, protests and advertising as discussed in our earlier blogs that these so-called ‘eyesores’ (versus an ugly, smoke-belching coal-fired power-plant polluting the air and waterways for miles around, get a grip) are now a welcome sight.
Other innovations such as solar-powered cars with the panels directly on the vehicle, as well as tied in with Vehicle to Grid (an example and explanation of which can be seen here) are excellent and show where we’re heading – but equally important is the planting of billions of trees, pretty old technology you must say. Funds for businesses to make energy efficiency happen in the workplace are a must, incentives must be increased and action plans (where kW Energy Consultants come in) devised that don’t just prioritise renewable energy projects; priority to insulate and a-rate, before generate, is key.
Earlier this month kW Energy Consultants surveyed an industrial estate with over 20 individual units on – they had never had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as the tenants had been in place long term, before EPCs came into being and they didn’t need an EPC just yet as no tenant was due to leave, however the landlord went beyond compliance and future proofed the buildings by ensuring they didn’t just meet the MEES ‘E’ requirement but did their level best, by working with our consultants, to go beyond this requirement which will get tougher over time (i.e. future requirements will require all buildings to achieve level ‘D’, then ‘C’ etc. all the way to net zero).
One industrial estate, one city, one country – it’s small scale but is still so essential on the global outcome as it is part of the bigger picture; by ensuring our building stock is compliant and going beyond compliance and one step closer to net zero we’re ensuring we are on step closer to saving our planet. Rather damningly summed up by BEIS, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, we have no chance of achieving net zero without energy efficiency. The message to the UK is simple; this is essential and we at kW Energy Consultants are at your service.
I read somewhere, a long time ago (once again highlighting how all this ‘green stuff’, to put it better than a certain ex-Prime Minister managed, has actually been on the agenda for decades) a quote that stuck with me – I confess I can’t recall the author or if it is one of those quotes that has been paraphrased over time by many; “sustainable living is like eating cake then going on a diet and doing loads of exercise to burn that cake off, when really it is best to just not eat cake”. True, not eating cake would be better for us physically, just as living in caves with no heating, no running water and no lighting would have a lower impact upon the planet. Trying to impose this as law might come across some opposition, so rightly has not been considered, so let’s go back to that cake quote; we can still eat cake, just so long as it is part of a healthy, balanced diet with exercise and that we don’t overdo it – similarly we should not have to deprive ourselves of heating our homes and offices, basic plumbing and lightbulbs – so long as we monitor our consumption of these things then the Earth does have the potential to provide for us all.
I’ll finish on an example from nature – our planet is incredibly resilient, as are its species; I’m not just not talking about humans, though we certainly are, but all manner of flora and fauna – just take a look at the site of one of our worst man-made disasters, Chernobyl. Some 30 years since the explosion that rendered the area unhabitable for at least the next 20,000 years, life is finding a way, almost in defiance of what has happened there. Not just the odd weed and cockroach here and there, but the whole food chain is re-establishing, including top predators such as wolves (which would only return if food was available). Thirty years, that’s all it took. The planet we inhabit is very similar to us, it is resilient, it is adaptable, it finds a way.
kW Energy Consultants work with businesses to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions within their buildings and deliver building energy compliance – Display Energy Certificates, Energy Performance Certificates, Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme, bespoke energy audits & reports. To find out more visit www.kwenergyconsultants.com