Earth Overshoot Day
Aug 22 is Earth Overshoot Day
Churches are coming together to toll their bells, light candles and hold prayer services to mark Earth Overshoot Day. The tolling bells warn about irreversible damage to places, plants and animals, and life we love, indeed for God’s Creation as we know it on Earth – unless we turn from the destructive path that we have been following. Lit candles help us focus and pray.
This year Earth Overshoot Day will fall on 22 August. To maximise publicity about this solemn milestone day, church bells will toll shortly before midday on Friday 21 August to alert people to Earth Overshoot Day the next day.
What is Earth Overshoot Day?
Earth Overshoot Day is the day when humanity’s demands for ecological resources (such as water, fish and other living creatures, forests and soil), exceeds what the Earth can renew in a year. This is driven by our attitudes and disconnect towards the Earth, our common home that God created and entrusted to our care. Collectively, we are overconsuming, overexploiting and de-stabilising God’s Creation. This has upset its delicate balances and recovery processes. We see this in increasingly ‘unprecedented’ fires, drought and extreme weather.
Yet our changed behaviour – even for a short time – to stop COVID-19 spreading has pushed back the date of Earth Overshoot Day this year by about three weeks. This does not mean we can relax, though. The window for avoiding catastrophic consequences from damage to our climate continues to close rapidly. We are also driving mass extinction of species and breakdown of the integrity of our common home.
What can I do to help on Earth Overshoot Day?
Commit to mark Earth Overshoot Day by joining together with other Christians to toll our bells and hold prayer services:
Sign up here to join in and receive support such as a short liturgy, images and further inspiration.
- Toll your church bells, light a candle or do some other symbolic action shortly before midday on Friday 21 August as an alert to Earth Overshoot Day.
- Pray for people to see the ecological crises in our midst and for “ecological conversion.”
Why do we need to change our attitudes and behaviour?
These unfolding climate and ecological crises – and COVID-19 – are tragic warning signs of our broken relationship with God’s Creation and our loss of understanding our interrelationship with all living things and the physical environment that enables life. Australians are some of the biggest contributors to this problem: if everyone behaved like us, humanity would consume the equivalent of over 4 Earths each year!
Why is it important to mark Earth Overshoot Day?
As Christians, we can mark Earth Overshoot Day to raise it in the public consciousness and create a call for transformation of our attitudes and actions. This is why we are coming together in symbolic action and prayer. Ultimately, we need individual and collective “ecological conversion”. That will enable us to repair our relationship with God and with Creation. And that will enable us to repair our relationship with the life-support systems on Earth so that they can repair and renew and life as we know it can continue.