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Earth Overshoot Day

from Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan

We live in a time of Climate Emergency. Nevertheless, our collective actions do not yet approximate a real understanding nor fully appropriate actions. We are not yet acting as if we are facing an urgent and life threatening Emergency. What does ‘Climate Emergency’ actually mean? According to David Attenborough:

It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.    (Attenborough, Our Planet)

History is written later, but the future is written now. Perhaps the central message of contemporary climate sciences consists in the realization that the entire planet is deeply interconnected. There are no isolated ecosystems. There are no ecosystems that are safe from the effects of climate change. All life on this planet is profoundly interrelated. What happens in one area of the globe has far reaching, but as yet insufficiently understood, effects upon and consequences for even far distant regions. . . . 


In other words, the present Global Climate Emergency demands a profound historical transformation of our civilization. We have not only been pouring greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere; we have been collectively exceeding the regenerative capacity of the earth’s natural resources and ecological systems. Earth Overshoot Day, the day in the annual cycle when humanity’s demands for resources exceeds the capacity for regeneration of those resources, has advanced by two whole months over the past twenty years. This year Earth Overshoot Day took place on 29 July 2019. It now requires the equivalent of 1.75 planets to sustain us. Humanity is damaging the whole system upon which our lives, and that of all other species depends.

Global Climate Emergency: after COP24, climate science, urgency, and the threat to humanity

  1. September 25, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Britain’s Labour Party has just signed onto a Green New Deal committing to 100% zero carbon by 2030 – within ten years: https://www.labourgnd.uk/agreed-conference-motion

  2. September 27, 2019 at 1:49 am

    If we really want to make a difference and keep greenhouse gases to similar levels today we will need to taking drastic action. We will need action similar to the mobilisation of resources and minds that happened in WW2.Then the USA gave over all its industries to achieve the aim of winning the war. And the nation prospered so well that war bonds were sold to the public to get them away from excessive spending, and cashing them in after 1945 was a big factor in the post war affluence in the western nations.
    Short of an action regimen at the scale of that in WW2, very little will be done successfully.

    • September 27, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Totally agree, John.

    • Jamie Morgan
      September 28, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Isn’t that what the paper is about?

  3. September 28, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    WW2 is the example needed to make us conscious of its scale.”Global Climate Emergency” cannot be visualised without an example.

    • Jamie
      September 29, 2019 at 7:36 pm

      And again this war mobilisation is in the essay

  4. Craig
    September 29, 2019 at 12:36 am

    Economics is about exchange. Money is most basically accounting. Paradigm changes are new ideas that transform and create new patterns through the discovery of new insights like:

    1) the incredibly powerful point in the economic process at retail sale for a monetary policy that mathematically doubles everyone’s purchasing power and

    2) the enabling of direct government fiscal and monetary distributism while miraculously and beneficially integrating price deflation into profit making economic systems which

    3) evokes hope for both monetary self interest in all economic agents and an ecologically sane future around which

    4) a mass movement/mobilization could quickly take shape that could herd the entirety of the political apparatus toward the policies that would effect such realities.

    An economic system based on the natural philosophical concept of grace as in monetary gifting. The new paradigm.

    • September 29, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Craig, consider the possibility that you are wrong (or more kindly, only half right: not so much in your conclusion as in your premises). It seems to me you are still accepting what our eyes see and wholesale traders since Hume and Adam Smith’s era have indoctrinated us to believe, in which its “trading” is inconsistent with your “gifting”.

      For comparison’s sake let us explore the earlier understanding of the word ‘economics’, meaning literally “household management”. That I suggest is about enabling ourselves to do the right thing in the right time and place, so that money is most basically not about trade but about enabling ourselves to disconnect consumption of products from time and place of production. In order to produce for next year we have to be given our fair share from this year’s harvest: not here and now, but as we need it. Money enables rather than gives us that, betokening the right to a fair share. This is primarily a credit limit, a budget, and secondarily, accounting for its expenditure through time enables us to manage our realisation of it.

      • Craig
        September 29, 2019 at 9:26 am

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply Dave. However, my premise is that the concept of grace is the the ultimate integrative, unitary, resolving, evolutionary and deepest knowledge of both human consciousness AND the dynamically flowing nature of the physical/temporal universe as well. Further, all paradigm changes are expressions of an aspect or aspects of the concept of grace. Monetary gifting is simply (and finally) grace applied to and expressed in economics and finance. Trusting and self actualizing grace is the highest erudition.

  5. Ken Zimmerman
    September 30, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    “It now requires the equivalent of 1.75 planets to sustain us. Humanity is damaging the whole
    system upon which our lives, and that of all other species depends.” Before you make such statements, consider this. White evangelical Christians in particular are, on average, more likely to question whether human activity contributed to the Earth’s warming, with research by Pew suggesting 28 percent accept this view, compared with 64 percent of those without a religious affiliation, 56 percent of black Protestants and 41 percent of mainline Protestants. Over a third of evangelical Christians say there is “no solid evidence” that climate change is happening. Some evangelicals argue that global warming is of little concern when the end times are approaching. Indeed, it could even be proof of it. Bible verses are also pointed to as evidence humans are required to subdue Earth, that God is in control, and global warming is part of His plan. Others see it as liberal hoax and a means to push folks away from religion towards the government.

    This is not the entire picture, however. A subset of evangelicals are concerned about the environment, and are actively campaigning to protect it. Members of what is known as the ‘care’ movement’ believe humans are custodians of the planet—and it is our duty to protect God’s creation.

    Since we can’t jail or execute this slice of the population, how should Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan, and others who share their views engage evangelical Christians on climate change? Right now evangelicals have great influence in the Federal government, particularly those most strongly opposed to any discussion or action on climate change. Even if a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2020, their influence will remain substantial. I know the adage that one should not ask a question to which one does not know the answer, but in this case I feel I must.

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