Thursday, August 22, 2013

World Overshoot Day

The Blue Marble. Photo by NASA
Although I managed to get it up on the Living Green in Wichita Falls Facebook page on the 20th, I am just now getting around to posting about World Overshoot Day here. August 20 was the approximate day in 2013 that we humans used as many natural resources as can be sustainably replaced for the year. For the rest of the year, we are using resources we don't have and driving up the level of carbon in our atmosphere.

It seems many times as if we are Don Quixote tilting windmills--the news seems to get worse all the time. Every day there is another news story of some serious environmental threat.

However,  look at all the good that has been done since the 60's: the Clean Air Act (1963), the Endangered Species Act (1973), the Clean Water Act (1972), and establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (1970), to name a few. Yes, there are some whack-jobs out there who want to dismantle our environmental protections (and if the House budget passes, they would manage to do much of that.) However, generally I think most Americans know these protections are absolutely essential and support them.

The key here is not to give up. We still have the power of the ballot box (if we can get environmentally aware people to run). We absolutely have the power of the wallet. Although our individual purchases may not be a lot, they add up. We have control over our own lives and the choices we make to reduce our environmental footprint. I am not advocating taking all of the joy out of our lives and live so austerely we feel guilty about everything we do, but we can make the conscious choices that matter.

Many times you hear that the American economy runs on consumption. And that is true. But who is to say that we can't turn the tide of consumption from goods to memories, to experiences, to learning, to health, to relationships, to art? Yes, we all need some stuff, but we don't need near what most of us have. We can choose to spend our money on things that matter in making us happier and healthier as individuals, families and communities.

Each of us can do something; collectively we can turn the tide on the consumption madness.


  1. I'm now working in the service dept of Wichita Falls' largest auto dealership, and the volume of water bottles I see going through this place is amazing. A huge impact would be made if everyone simply carried a refillable, personal water bottle. If anyone cares to see the numbers for the bottled water industry, go to