Where is Your Safe Haven? Let us Talk About Earth Overshoot Day

Where do you go when the summers in the city get boiling hot or when you feel exhausted? Do you have a hiding place where you can escape when the sun burns and our natural world disappears before your eyes? A cozy, happy corner where you are at your most comfortable. You are free, serene and burden free.

lakesidewalk-640_medium

Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, Italian Air Force pilot and engineer, also a first person who brewed espresso in space, spent 199 days at the International Space Station from November 2014 to June 2015. During the stay, she and other members of the crew performed numerous scientific experiments and maintained their spaceship, the one and only that kept them alive.

Up in space at the ISS with a small well-prepared crew or on planet earth with 7.6 billion fellow humans, our responsibilities stay the same. We have to care for each other; live in peace. Also, take care of our vessel, planet earth, because that’s all we have.

beach-640_medium

Did you know that August 1st, 2018 was the Earth Overshoot Day? It was the date when we (all of humanity) had used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year? If the whole world consumed like the French, for example, we would need 2.9 piles of earth to produce enough for our needs. This is way more than the planetary mean during past few years, 1.7 Earths.

The healthy and pollution free edges of the world are getting scarce, and the humanity is consuming more than nature can give. The current trend shouldn’t be our destiny! Even if our planet is finite, human possibilities are not, states Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that advances the science of sustainability and hosts and determines the date of Earth Overshoot Day.

Global Footprint Network has identified four main areas that characterize our long-term future most forcefully: cities, energy, food and population. All of them are shaped by our individual and collective choices. For instance, I can replace car miles by public transportation, by biking or walking. If everyone around the world reduced driving by 50%, Earth Overshoot Day would move back 12 days.

Educating children is the best investment for the wellbeing of our planet.  If you are a parent or an educator, have a look at the classroom recourses provided on the World Overshoot Day website: propose your students measure their own Ecological Footprint and ask them to think about ways of reducing it. Or why not to create a sandwich with tasty leftovers.

Ten Low-cost Nature-themed Holiday Activities for August

chalet-640_mediumAugust is the best holiday month in Northern Europe. Locals are about to start a new academic year, yet the weather is still warm, and the mosquitoes are already gone. Blueberries and raspberries are ready to be gathered in the vast forests, water in the thousands of lakes is smooth like silk and as warm as the summer evening breeze. Nightless, and therefore sometimes also sleepless, nights are over; in August we Finns admire sunsets and stargaze.

deer-640_mediumAnyone, Finns and foreigners alike, may explore Finland’s forests or countryside freely thanks to a legal concept, Everyman’s Right,  unique to the Nordic countries. Picking wild berries and tasty mushrooms and fishing with a simple rod and line are allowed to everyone, but making a campfire or driving a motor vehicle off the road will require landowners permission. Fish and hunt are only allowed with appropriate permits. With rights come responsibilities – respecting others and nature!

scenic-640_medium

National parks are Finland’s national treasures and ideal sites for hikers, climbers and animal spotters. All forty of them have marked hiking routes, nature trails, information boards and picnic sites. Only a few national parks and popular recreational areas have particular trails designated for mountain biking though, and off-road cycling is generally not permitted to prevent harmful erosion. The photo was taken at Hiidenportti National Park in Sotkamo.

cycling-640_mediumRegardless, Finland offers excellent opportunities for biking in diverse and changing sceneries. A unique nationwide network of well-maintained and uncrowded roads is highly suitable for bicycle touring. Visit Finland’s Pyöräillen Suomessa, a website dedicated to cycling in Finland offers a vast amount of information including guides, maps, and biking routes. Pedaling is an economical way of moving around and sightseeing!

Another fun activity in nature for all ages is a modern treasure hunt – Geocaching. All you need for this fun sport are a device or a smartphone suitable for GPS positioning and a web connection. Anyone can register free of charge at the website of the worldwide geocaching community at www.geocaching.com. In case you’d like a tech-free holiday, search for geocaches with the help of a simple map is a viable option.

A well-liked activity of us northerners including a map and a compass is orienteering. Orienteering clubs arrange recreational orienteering events mainly from April to October. More precise information on these events can be found in Rastilippu service at www.rastilippu.fi. You need to create a user profile in order to use the service.

  1. Pick berries or mushrooms.
  2. Go fishing.
  3. Hike in a forest.
  4. Visit a national park.
  5. Bike.
  6. Go Geocaching.
  7. Try orienteering.
  8. Swim in a lake.
  9. Admire a sunset by a lake.
  10. Stargaze.