Was there something special about Monday, 1st May 2018?
Weather wise, the rain of Auckland’s weekend was clearing to sunny skies with a temperature high of 20°C and strongish southerly winds. Nothing special there.
The news reports of the day covered a homicide, the closure of the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park to protect Kauri trees, and Auckland University promoting a public lecture, “Coasts in Crisis”, on the impacts of sea level rise. Two environmental headlines!
Missing was a more significant environmental matter. May 1st was New Zealand Overshoot Day.
The concept of Overshoot Day was developed by the Global Footprint Network as a means to mark the date on which we ask more from nature, than our planet can renew in a year.
New Zealand Overshoot Day was the date on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like we do. May 1st corresponds to our domestic demand for the earth’s resources being equivalent to more than three Earths.
Of the 36 countries with an even earlier Overshoot Day, Qatar heads the list at 9th February. Vietnam’s Overshoot Day concludes the list at December 21st – still requiring more than one Earth to meet their demand for resources.
For 2018, World Overshoot Day will fall on 1st August. That date reflects human demand for resources across the planet being 1.7 times what the earth can sustainably meet.
Obvious it is, that we have only the one Earth to meet that demand.
The Earth is already showing signs of its unwillingness to meet our wants. Those signs include growing inequality, rising sea levels, a loss of biodiversity, extreme weather events, and much more.
What will it be like when the rest of humanity demands what we in New Zealand have and take for granted?
Global warming is behind many of the signals that nature is giving us. In a belated response to those signals, our government are taking action.
When enacted, the much vaunted Zero Carbon Bill will set carbon emissions targets and pathways, and establish a Climate Change Commission to advise the government and monitor our progress on meeting those targets.
Submissions on the Bill’s discussion document, which closed in July, were made by members of the Anglican’s Climate Action Network, Auckland. These can be viewed on cherished-earth.nz.
Those submissions reflect the climate and sustainability actions that are already happening within the Auckland Diocese. But even those actions will not be enough to forestall the existential threat that the Union of Concerned Scientists warned of for the second time in 25 years. “Mankind is … facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources…” There will not be another warning in another 25 years.
What is clear, is that our Earth will survive whether we cherish it or not.
Not so clear is whether our grandchildren will enjoy a liveable climate – that depends on the Zero Carbon pathway we must now take.