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Earth Overshoot Day

August 14, 2020

Earth Overshoot Day 2020


The Anglican Board of Mission is proud to support the Earth Overshoot Day initiative on August 21st and 22nd. In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, it is sometimes hard to recall that our world faces a Climate Crisis that threatens life at every level.

This year Earth Overshoot Day will fall on 22 August. To maximise publicity about this solemn milestone day, church bells are asked to toll shortly before midday on Friday 21 August to alert people to Earth Overshoot Day on Saturday the 22nd.

Earth Overshoot day reminds us that we are consuming the resources of the earth at an unsustainable rate. Each twelve months we consume resources that it takes the earth 1.6 years to replenish. We live unsustainably and we cannot continue to do so.

Earth Overshoot Day asks us to pray, to ring our church bells and to strategise for a more sustainable future that will allow the future flourishing of humanity and all of the created order.

Symbolic actions are an important part of helping re-imagine the world. It is only through re-imagining that we will find the energy and the ideas that may well save the planet. As Bob Dylan said in his 1989 song:

Ring them bells St. Peter
Where the four winds blow
Ring them bells with an iron hand
So the people will know
Oh it’s rush hour now
On the wheel and the plow
And the sun is going down
Upon the sacred cow

Our love of God must be reflected in our love of all that God has made and our love for our neighbours. The ‘Sacred cow’ of unlimited wealth and consumption has proven to be a false idol. Earth Overshoot Day reminds us that we need to repent – but also to be hopeful, active and ready to change.

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
   and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
   and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
   and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
   I will exult in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3.17-18

Crises can bring despair, but they can also bring out the best in humanity. Hopeful, committed responses can and will do much to save the planet.

Much is already being done and ABM proudly supports many overseas partners who have already integrated environmental and climate action activities into their programs. Here are just some of them.

ADSE in Kenya.

To address soil erosion, ADSE runs trainings on tree planting, establishment of tree nurseries, promotion of grass planting, and construction of fuel efficient stoves. ADSE also promotes zai pits (Google it – it’s great news!) and mulching to enhance soil fertility. In FY 2018/19, through cooperation with local governments and communities, 6,000 trees were planted in schools.

In Kenya, replenishing depleted soil with irrigation and composting means that harvests are improved and sustainable. Credit: Ivy Wang
In Kenya, replenishing depleted soil with irrigation and composting means that harvests are improved and sustainable.
© ABM/Ivy Wang.

ECARE and VIMROD in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, both ABM partners promote use of organic feeds and vermicomposting (use of works in composting). ECARE also conducts tree/mangrove planting and promotes Alternate Wetting and Drying of Rice Farms to lessen the carbon emission of rice production.

ACOM Solomons.

In 2019, ACOM Solomons ran a Climate Change awareness program with more than 200 (M/F) students at a local high school, organised trainings for Church Agency Network for Disaster Operations (CAN-DO) Members in the Solomon Islands,  engaged with international researchers, and started making a climate change and DRR Video Documentary.

ACOM Vanuatu.

ACOM worked with a provincial government to install WASH facilities at a domestic airport (in Sola). The environment around the airport is now free from human defecation. ACOM also integrated environmental discussion in its disaster risk reduction workshops, run at community-level.

Church Agencies Network (CAN).

Several members of Australia’s CAN network supported a workshop in Fiji in January 2020 where Pacific church leaders came together to advance the REM movement (Re-weaving the Ecological Mat). The REM movement, which originated in Fiji, espouses a more ecologically sustainable form of development in the Pacific.

ABM is also pleased to be publishing a new set of studies, ‘Climate for Change’ by Russell Rollason AM. Russell’s long history of work in Overseas Aid has brought him face to face with some of the extremes of climate change and crisis. His studies – soon to be available to download from our website – take a serious and faithful look at what we can do to avert disaster and build a future full of hope (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29.11). Look out for – and consider using – the studies during the Season of Creation in September.

Climate for change
Cover of Russell’s Climate for Change Studies.

You might also take the challenge offered by ABC TV’s new series, Fight For Planet A:
Our Climate Challenge.

On August 21, we encourage you to ring your church bells, to light a candle of hope and to pray for guidance – both for ourselves and for world leaders. Along with our Partners, we can make a difference.