Act: Inspiration

Holy Sh*t, Overshoot! Don’t Dither; Do

August 1, 2022

July 28 was EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY. On July 29 we went into ecological deficit. Humans have used the entire annual budget of resources that can replenished by nature. We entered overshoot ~ 40 years ago. When I saw the overshoot (and collapse) graph back then, I said “Holy Sh*t”. I’ve never been the same since, and have wondered why so few also had their hair on fire.

overshoot graph

Overshoot in context

Before your eyes glaze over and you scroll on, I have some juicy context for you.

This article exposes how capitalism benefits from reproduction. More people. More consumers. Mother nature be damned.

What to do? Read on..

1. Median income in the USA is about $70,000/person. These folks are in the top 25% of the population. In India, now suffering an unbearable heat wave, the top 1% earns this. MOST READING THIS ARE THE PRIVILEGED FEW. Just for context.

2. Very roughly, money spent = planet consumed.

3. Gandhi said, “The world has enough for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed.”

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Consuming different stuff doesn’t cut it

4. It’s not about buying an electric car. It’s about keeping your car in service as long as possible (and using your bicycle and public transit!). And your clothes, your furniture. Your stuff will live longer than you do, and you already own it. Upgrade only when necessary.

5. It’s not about getting the best price. That doesn’t lower your impact, it might just increase the volume of stuff racing through your life and into landfills. It’s about putting your money into the pockets of the US 75% rather than the 10% or 1%. Patronize local businesses. Invest in local businesses. Tip well. See movies at local theaters. Use local banks and credit unions.

6. Agitate for economic justice. Don’t let the R-bullies call it socialism to capture the flag. Public libraries. Public pools. Public access to health care. Public transit. Public consumption on infrastructure. Public incentives to weatherize your house. Public service. Support public spending on public goods. Make life less expensive and more empowering for the less well heeled.

7. Make families in many ways, not just married couples having children. It’s hard. Yes. Those called to motherhood and fatherhood, wonderful. Those not, be aunts and uncles. Honorary grand-peeps. Women’s groups. Men’s groups. Churches. Breakfast clubs. Community gardens. Share your home with renters. Participation, not biology, equals belonging in this world where our numbers are growing. Every person walking this earth is precious. Needless to say, women’s body sovereignty is key.

8. Think the unthinkable. It’s time. In times of crisis, consider unpopular or ridiculed solutions. Not the ones that privilege the few. Not the ones that send us into autocracy/ fascism. Not the ones promoted by corporate lobbyists. I notice many solutions coming to the fore now, from regenerative agriculture to deploying massive pontoons of seaweed to drawdown carbon. We need to use far less and recycle our excess.

Honey we have to talk

9. Have climate conversations as often as possible with as many as possible. Not “is it real?” But what do you notice? How do you feel about it? What have you done in response, small or grand? What have you thought of doing, that you might now commit to? How can I support you?

10. Turn doom and gloom into love and action. Inaction due to fatalism is like giving up on your parent because they’ve been diagnosed with a fatal disease. You up your love, enjoy every precious moment. Don’t let the media get you down, but let reality pump you up to engage, in whatever ways you, in your circumstance, can.

Hazel says

This has turned into more cheer-leading than I intended, but my dear friend Hazel Henderson’s last words to me before she went virtual encourage boldness:

It’s going to be a sh*t show for the next 5 years, so
Tell the truth and
Enjoy your life.

Overshoot Day reminds us to do all three.


Teaser Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Vicki Robin

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, speaker, and host of the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). And author of Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking Penguin, 2013), which recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food, farming, belonging, and hope. Vicki has lectured widely and appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and “Morning Edition.” She has also been featured in hundreds of magazines including People Magazine, AARP, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, Newsweek, Utne Magazine, and the New York Times. She currently lives on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound and is active in her community on a range of social and environmental issues including affordable housing, local food, and community investing. For fun, she is a comedy improv actress, sings in a choir, gardens, and nurtures a diverse circle of friends.

Tags: building community resilience, building resilient local economies, Earth Overshoot Day, ecological overshoot