Today Is Earth Overshoot Day, Here’s What It Means

| Educate!

Above photo: Guillaume de Germain/Unsplash.

From today onwards, we have used every last bit of natural resources that Earth can provide within one calendar year and are now living on ecological credit.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day occurs on August 22. It marks the imaginary point when humanity’s demand exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

The international research organization Global Footprint Network, which has been calculating this date since 1970, estimates 1.6 planets are required to support our population’s way of life.

How is the date calculated?

The methodology relies on a “demand-supply” calculation.

The research team measure a state’s biocapacity — productive land and sea areas.

Then, the demand of said state is substracted: its inhabitants’ needs for plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Both results are expressed in global hectares, standardized with world average productivity for the sake of comparison.

If a population’s demand for natural assets outnumbers the supply, that area runs an ecological deficit and the organisation sets a symbolic date to mark the beginning of this deficit.

Which countries have the biggest ecological footprint?

August 22 is the average overshoot day globally but each country starts living on ecological debt at different times.

To maintain the deficit, countries will either liquidate their own ecological assets (by overfishing for instance), overproduce (emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) or import missing resources from their neighbours.

No nation makes it to the end of 2020 without widening this deficit. However, there are significant differences between one nation to another.

While one planet would almost be enough to support the needs of Indonesians, we would need a little less than two Earths if we were to live like Qataris.

The worst student in the European class is Luxembourg with the country overshoot day set as early as February 16. At the other end of the spectrum, Moldova is only 23 days away from having enough domestic natural resources to supply its population’s needs.

What impact has the COVID-19 crisis had?

For the first time in years, the global overshoot day has moved back. Last year, it landed on July 29 — nearly a month earlier.

Sadly enough though, this can mainly be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and its aftereffects: shutting down industries for the most part.

It led to a “9.3% reduction in the global Ecological Footprint compared to the same period last year” according to the Global Footprint Network’s latest reports and projections.

If you want to find out how many planets humanity would need if they were to live like you, the organisation set up a tool to calculate your personal overshoot day.

  • Jeff

    Today Is Earth Overshoot Day, Here’s What It Means

    Here’s what it really means: Humans have invented a system that tells them how much death and destruction they can cause while basically not harming themselves. The proper attitude is, how much do we need to survive, and how many of us can exist without harming other species, habitats, and ecosystems? Not how much can we get away with. “Sustainability” is a BS propaganda term designed to make people think that environmental harm is not environmental harm. We should be living in balance with other species, habitats, and ecosystems, not trying to do as much harm as we can get away with.

  • Richard

    I knew there was a reason why our government treated this pandemic like a long lost puppy & let it in the house so quickly. They just don’t realize because of their greed lust that this planet does not care if you are poor or rich & powerful if you push it to extremes it will annihilate every living thing if need be and start all over again. Looks like we might just get to see it in action first hand if things don’t change soon. So much for your kids getting to have a better life than you had, unless of course the virus backfires on them and kills out 95% of our government & the elite first.

  • GypsyFreyja

    Well said.

  • Nylene13

    First Step. Stop Eating Meat.

  • sabelmouse


  • chetdude

    I’d say eat LESS meat and make sure it’s grown as part of a regenerative agricultural process.

    “Meat animals” are essential for a healthy environment and are a decent source of protein in moderation.

    We ARE omnivores after all.

  • chetdude

    And what it really means is that the Planet cannot support 7 1/2 billion humans with ANY decent “standard of living”.

    Our definition of Sustainability is:

    1. The integration of human social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment;

    2. A moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations;

    3. Entails determining and staying within the balance point among population, consumption and waste assimilation so that bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems can maintain their ability to recharge, replenish and regenerate.

  • Nylene13

    If you are saying humans need animal protein – which is debatable-it can be had with (free range chicken) eggs and goat’s milk and cheese.

    Meat is not necessary.

    Stop Eating Meat.

  • Nylene13

    A true sociopathic response.

  • Bill Rood

    This feeds into the (Edit: Malthusian globalist) plan to reduce the earth’s human population by killing 50% of humanity, through bio-weapons (pesitlence) dangerous vaccines, starvation (famine) and war.

  • sabelmouse

    being bored with nonsense?

  • sabelmouse

    we are! and depending on region meat is the best option, actually.

  • Nylene13

    Imagine President Trump in the backyard of the White House, digging up dirt with a shovel and planting garden seeds.

    Now that is something I would like to see.

  • Nylene13

    No sure what ‘maters’ are. Potatoes?

    Ireland would be a great place to have a garden. I am sure you could grow potatoes (although potatoes originally came from America and not Ireland) and zucchini there. And lots of other veggies.

    And you could have milk goats and make cheese too. And have free range chickens for eggs. That would take care of animal protein.

    No need to eat meat.

  • Nylene13

    Best option for what? Not health.

  • RickW

    How about fish & such, Nylene?

  • Nylene13

    Well. I grew up eating wild salmon from the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

    Sometimes we bought it from the Indians at the nearby Reservations.

    When it was just Indians (and a few whites) there was TONS of wild salmon. Now, due to capitalist over-fishing and capitalist pollution-
    they are dying out.

    Last season a Tribe on the Colombia river did not catch ANY-there were so few-about one hundred VS the countless MILLIONS there used to be -the Indians just did a count and did what they could to make sure those few salmon were able to get upstream to spawn.

    I always felt it was OK to eat wild salmon, they were at the end of their life cycle anyway-But now, there are so few.

    Until we get back to a Sane Environment, I think we should all stop eating meat. Most of it comes from Cattle Ranches which are destroying the wild lands, rounding up wild horses and shooting all the wolves, coyotes and cougars.

    Or Horrid Pig farms.

    Just stop eating meat. You don’t need it, and the meat industry is a good thing to protest against.

    Eat a veggie burger instead.

  • GMOs Live Long & Prosper

    You mean the videos where they plant employees and film fake footage?

  • sabelmouse

    yes health, especially for ex vegans like me + environment.

  • sabelmouse

    omg, you are clueless about the irish climate.
    coming here from europe is what made me realise how impossible veganism is .
    growing up in a veritable garden of eden, compare to ireland, in middle germany and seeing what does NOT grow here.
    potatoes do grow here , but have many issues do to the highly unstable/changeable weather.
    zucchini in poly tunnels but they rot quickly.
    i could, and do have eggs and dairy but i know that it takes new animals for those and eating the babies/old ones is the sustainable option.
    i did grow up on a farm btw.
    then there’s hunting and fishing of course, unlike fruit [ barely any in ireland ] and veg, animal foods are available in any climate.

  • Nylene13

    I don’t know anything about veganism. I am a vegetarian.

    My well treated goats and chickens generally die of old age.

    I am sure some vegetables grow well in Ireland. Perhaps you just do not know what grows well there, being a non-native.

  • Nylene13

    You must know what you are doing to be a vegan.

    A Vegetarian, on the other hand, is pretty simple.

  • sabelmouse

    yes, luckily i was vegetarian longer than vegan. not that veganism is ever possible without supplements.

  • sabelmouse

    nor do the natives, clearly.

  • Richard

    More than likely some of the 24 staff members she had did it.

  • Nylene13

    True. But at least she made the point that backyard gardens were a good thing.

    Trump probably regards them as Anti-American!

  • RickW

    I remember (decades ago) that a city I lived in wanted to tax backyard gardens on the notion that the gardeners weren’t spending their money in grocery stores, and therefore counted it as “taxable income”. It didn’t fly…….