Earth News|Collected: Earth Overshoot Day came late this year; a new UK law to prevent deforestation; and 100 million animals lives saved in the US

A round-up of this week’s good news for the planet

Earth Overshoot Day was the latest its been since 2005 this year, but is that really good news?

Earth Overshoot Day is the date when humanity has demanded as much from nature as Earth can regenerate in one whole year.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day fell on 22 August, the latest it’s been since 2005, when it fell on 25 August and it has been getting earlier and earlier since then, falling as early as 29 July in 2019.

Although at first, it seems like great news (which is why it’s featuring in this segment) that we earthlings have managed to decrease our resource demand to the point that they have lasted almost a month longer this year, when you drill down into the reasons for that change, it’s not such a great picture. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, people aren’t travelling, people are working from home, people have lost their jobs and very, very sadly – people have died and are still dying.

We might ask ourselves, why has it taken a tragedy of this magnitude for humanity’s Ecological Footprint to contract by 10% and what can we as a global community take forward from this to create a more sustainable future for all. As Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom notes in a statement: “Sustainability requires both ecological balance and people’s well-being ensured over the long-term, therefore this year’s sudden Ecological Footprint contraction cannot be mistaken for progress. This year more than ever, Earth Overshoot Day highlights the need for strategies that increase resilience for all.”


New laws in the UK could hold businesses accountable for their supply chain in a bid to prevent deforestation

The UK government plans to introduce a new law designed to prevent forests and other important natural areas from being converted illegally into agricultural land.

The legislation would require larger companies operating in the UK to show where commodities such as cocoa, soy, rubber and palm oil originated from, and ensure they were being produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.

UK consumers have been vocal about their dislike of illegal deforestation linked to manufacturing. A new survey conducted by environmental group, WWF found 81% of respondents said there should be greater transparency about the origins of products that are imported into the UK.

The plans for the new law were cautiously welcomed by some environmental campaigners, although others argued that they were flawed and did not tackle demand, according to the BBC.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has launched a consultation into whether this new law should be introduced. You can have your say here.

A report predicts 100 million animal’s lives might been saved because of pandemic lockdowns

A silver-lining to California’s coronavirus lockdowns has been the drop in car accidents resulting in injury or death, which have halved during the period according to a report from the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

One of the report’s authors, Fraser Shilling, has now turned his attention to how many animals have also been saved in that time. In normal times, it’s thought that a staggering 1 million animals are killed on US roads each day! However, Shilling believes more than 100 million animals could have been saved because of the pandemic lockdowns, and hopes we can take forward learnings from the policy changes that have been put in place because of the pandemic.

“If we can learn from these experiences where we dial up and down human activity, we can have an incredible knowledge base for developing policies that are really based on how we impact our world and ourselves,” Shilling said.

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