July 2018
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Stephanie C. Fox


Earth Overshoot Day is Earlier Than Last Year – That’s Normal, and That’s Bad

The Global Footprint Network has released this year’s calculation for Earth Overshoot Day.

On August 2nd, 2017, we will observe – not celebrate – Earth Overshoot Day.

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day is earlier than the previous one. Last year, it was on August 8th. This chart predicts the end of June in 2030.

Our species’ ecological footprint just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It used to be about as large as that of Voltaire’s character, Micromégas, the first science fiction character in the history of literature. Micromégas was an alien who came to visit Earth and see what it was like. He looked at a boatload of Earth’s intellectuals (he had to use a magnifier just to see them). They imagined our species to be of the most important in all of the universe. When he understood this, he laughed. Some things never change!

Overshoot is caused by human overpopulation and ecosystems collapse; too many humans using too many resources, to the point that we are operating at a deficit after Earth Overshoot Day.

This is the website of the Global Footprint Network: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/resources/footprint-calculator/

With it, one can program an anonymous or named (your choice) avatar, and then load data, bit by bit, about your life and resource use.

If you visit that site now, you will see a notice that its footprint calculator is being revised, but here is the starting point of the current one:

The southernmost dot on North America is the one labeled “USA” – the other 2 are Calgary and Ontario, Canada.

I’ve tried every dot on the map, though, just to see what result I get.

Here a list of how high the ecological footprint of humans is by a selection of developed, industrialized nations:

The problem with doing this soon becomes clear: the only way to get a global footprint that doesn’t show myself causing a deficit is to give up electricity, independent transportation, ever ordering a delivery of anything, and perhaps even heat and hot water.

Who is going to willingly do that?!

It gets worse when you ask who is going to voluntarily not reproduce, because the answer is always: far too few to make a difference.

There are 7.5 billion humans on the Earth now. The planet’s carrying capacity for our species was last cited as being 2 billion.

We had that many in 1930.

Since that time, we have inflicted tremendous damage on our planet, and there is no other planet for us to move to.

(Even if we had a reliable starship that could warp us to another Class M planet, we would likely find that it was already occupied by another sentient species, one who would not be willing to share with us, a shipload of ecosystems migrants. And that doesn’t even deal with the fact that our immune systems would not be adapted to cope with the pathogens of this other planet.)

By now, the carrying capacity of the Earth for humans is less than it used to be. It ought to be measured again, just so that we will know what we are dealing with.

This graphic explains why not reproducing helps with our species’ combined ecological footprint:

The whole exercise reminds me of the last page of Stephen Emmott’s book, Ten Billion (Vintage Books, 2013).

It reads simply enough:

“We urgently need to do – and I mean actually do – something radical to avert a global catastrophe. But I don’t think we will.”

Then, after the paragraph break, it concludes:

“I think we’re fucked.”

Because I’m not willing to just resign myself to this fate, and because I like to write and create something that I hope will educate, entertain, and give the world something valuable and interesting to think about, I wrote a dystopian science fiction series on human overpopulation and ecosystems collapse. It is called Nae-Née, named for a birth control nanite whose name translates from this Scottish-French moniker as “Not-Born”.

The series can be view on the Books page of this website, or online at https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-C.-Fox/e/B007IZ4ZIS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1402562514&sr=8-2 (Book 1 was targeted by a band of internet trolls in November of 2014).

3 novels tell the story: Book 1 introduces the Nae-Née nanite and a birth license policy. Book 2 is the terrifying one. Book 3 deals with the villains.


One problem with daring to discuss and analyze this topic is that one is instantly branded a monster.

I’ll risk it. They’re just books, after all, meant to make people think, and I’m not a politician or policy maker.

Also, I’ll be damned if I’ll cave in to pressure from natalists or anyone else and shut up or scurry off into the shadows.

That’s the road to being insignificant and forgettable, and it’s boring.

Also, I love metaphors, because they are fun and inspire thought and some emotion, which makes them memorable.

Words must be memorable to have an impact, and every author chooses them in her own way.

It feels more optimistic to write novels and think about ways to save our ecosystem from such irreversible damage that our species will die.

Nature will do just fine either way, i.e. with or without humans.

I love our planet and the ecosystem I live in, particularly in the spring.

It’s in big trouble, but I can’t fix it on my own, so I’ll just promote my overpopulation series and enjoy the iris blossoms.

They’re beautiful, and they have the most wonderful, sweet scents, like fruit punch.

There’s no point in being gloomy every second of every day, so I hope you enjoy my flowers.



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