Earth Overshoot Day and Resource Consumption: The ZIN on air

ZIN-Junior Scholar Carolin as guest in the radio show "Wissen im Gespräch"
© Pixabay

On December 7 2018, ZIN junior scholar Carolin Bohn was guest in the radio show "Wissen im Gespräch" on  the radio station WDR 5. The interview, conducted with Steffi Klaus, took the Earth Overshoot Day as an opportunity to talk about excessive resource consumption and potential solutions.

Carolin Bohn explained how the Global Footprint Network calculates the so-called Earth Overshoot Day. Two parameters are being compared: the earth’s biocapacity (this indicator erstimates "the yields of productive land areas (such as fields, forests or meadows as well as the economically used sea areas) and the ability of ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide" [quote: Lexikon der Nachhaltigkeit, own transaltion]) and the ecological footprint "which is composed of our consumption and the release of carbon dioxide as a waste product" (quote: ibid., own translation). This way, the date from which we have exploited more resources than the earth can provide again within a year, is calculated. In 2018, this date had already been reached on the 1st of August. In addition to this date, the network also calculates the so-called Country Overshoot Days (based on country data) - the date on which the biocapacity of the earth would be exhausted if consumption worldwide were as high as in a particular country. According to Bohn, it is striking that, the German Country Overshoot Day is already in May. Although the it is thus later in the year than that of countries such as the USA, Canada or the United Arab Emirates, there is no reason to applaud Germany. Rather, there is a clear need for change in order to preserve resources for future generations and to address global distributional injustices.

Subsequently, listeners had the opportunity to present their personal approaches to resource conservation, addressing aspects such as nutrition, clothing and travel. These descriptions showed, as the ZIN employee made clear, that a positive re-evaluation of the term "sacrifice" is both possible and necessary. At the same time, she stressed that individual adjustments to consumption for various reasons do not always achieve the intended effect and that political commitment and the implementation of changes at systemic level are therefore decisive for the successful implementation of sustainability.

You can listen to the interview here (in German only).