In between all the random posts I saw on Instagram today, a small gem appeared – I heard mention of Earth Overshoot Day for the first time. Next, I watch the news and heard more about it. Hmmm... interesting. I did a quick google search and found a website dedicated not only to the day but ‘100 days of Possibility’. So, what is Earth Overshoot Day?
“Overshoot’ just marks by when in the year we have used as much as earth can renew but the big question really is, how to move the date.” - Matthis Wackernagel.
Ok, so that’s alarming to say the least! But, take a deep breath and re-read the second part of that quote.
The fact that my first steps into learning more about Earth Overshoot Day brought up '100 days of Possibility' is pretty incredible don’t you think? This is an example of activism and positive action at work. As someone with an interest in social affairs, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the negative news which often prompts me to feel an issue is far too big and ask, ‘where do we even start?’
However, this is what I really get excited about in my area of communication. There are people out there right now who know the science behind what is happening, they make the predictions we see on the news, but they are not satisfied to sit back and say 'well, it’s all terrible' and enjoy the soundbites. They are putting their heads together and searching out other creative people who have come up with solutions and are presenting them to the world.
“Preparing 100 days of Possibility has been awesome because we got to know so many fantastic examples of what’s possible and what’s even more inspiring is that these are examples that are also economically viable so yes, the needle is not moving very fast yet on the global scale but seeing what’s possible really is the greatest motivation.” Matthis Wackernagel
“Motivation” is where this really works because they know the problem is not only the issue itself, but how to motivate people to make change. They are using joined up thinking – they are not looking for a silver bullet but recognise that a complex problem needs a network of solutions. And a main take-away for me as a communicator is that they are pinpointing the realities of people’s thinking. They know that everyone fears losing the things they want for themselves and their families, so they are not preaching or telling people to stop the traffic because we all need to reduce our carbon footprint. They are saying we all want the same things, let’s find solutions that work for everyone.
“Absolutely, we need to create ways of using the planet much more sensibly that succeed for what we want as a human race. So, we want to educate our children, we want to have healthy lives, we want to enjoy meeting with friends and family, we want to run successful businesses. We need to find ways that are possible to achieve all those things that use the planet a lot less. That’s what ‘Move the Date’ challenges us to do and inspires us to do, that’s why the 100 Days of Possibility, it’s essential we have success, we have to come back at the end of the hundred days and say ‘we took some things that were possible, and we made them happen. We didn’t just talk about them, we made them happen.” - Terry A’Hearn.
I admire this way of thinking because it recognises that not everyone is willing or even able to reduce their carbon footprint by giving up certain things. We need to offer solutions that do not condemn certain people but allow for a variety of actions.
“Action” – many people want to take action but just don’t know how, maybe there isn’t a local infrastructure that allows them to give up their car or a nearby farm that allows them to “buy local”. This is where we need people who have already come up with great ideas and we need to spread those ideas. Why re-invent the wheel when we could build and adapt the work already being done. Connect the community together, see how one idea benefits another and another until each piece comes together.
Joined up thinking and common agenda’s help make progress as everyone sees that solutions need to reduce our impact on the planet but also, for example, create opportunities for jobs. With so little knowledge of the '100 Days of Possibilities' I am already excited because I believe it is trying to promote solutions that help people get on board. Very few people want to be the negative voice in the room saying ‘ah yes, but’, so a common understanding of the needs of everyone is vital to help shape the ideas. These voices can be recognised and valued because it means the solutions we create will be more positive and sustainable for everyone.
The film on the Earth Overshoot Day website reminded me that creating sustainable solutions is not just about the longevity of the idea, it's about bringing people on board and asking what might stop them from making a change. I've talked a bit about joined up thinking and I see how different areas of interest teach me important things that I can apply to my work. The film introduced ideas that are similar to the 'Growing Young' course (Fuller Youth Institute). This course may seem completely unrelated to this discussion as it’s about reversing the decline and growing the church to create a better future, but isn’t a better future exactly what '100 Days of Possibility' is all about? In Growing Young, they explain that people do not fear change, they fear loss - so in making changes, whether within a church or in society, we need to address those fears, discuss them and mitigate them where possible so that we can all move forward together. The more I look into ‘100 Days of Possibility’ the more I hope to learn about joined up thinking and where empathy can benefit everyone.
Find out more about 100 Days of Possibility at: