Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we have used all the biological resources that the Earth can renew during the entire year.
This year, Earth Overshoot Day was on 29 July, meaning that between 1 January and 29 July our demand was equivalent to what the planet can regenerate until 31 December.
The world's population is using as much as 1.7 planets a year, a figure that is thought to increase to 2 planets by 2030. Yet, we only have one planet.
The past does not necessarily determine our future. Our current choices do. Through wise, forward-looking decisions, we can turn around natural resource consumption trends while improving the quality of life for all people. While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity's greatest strengths: foresight, innovation and care for each other.
The Earth Overshoot Day Organisation has identified five key areas that are defining our long-term trends most forcefully. All of them are shaped by our individual and collective choices.
If the world's population lived like Indonesia, Earth Overshoot Day would fall on 18 December, a fantastic achievement, followed by Ecuador (7 Dec) and Nicaragua (2 Dec). On the other side of the spectrum, there is Qatar with a shocking Earth Overshoot Day falling on 9 February, followed by Luxembourg (15 Feb).
Let's have a look at the dates of the past 11 years:
2021 29 July 2015 6 August
2020 22 August 2014 5 August
2019 29 July 2013 3 August
2018 1 August 2012 4 August
2017 3 August 2011 4 August
2016 5 August 2010 8 August
Last year, the date was pushed back to where it stood some 15 years ago. This was due to the pandemic-induced lockdown measures around the world that slowed human activity down. Pandemics are not the solution to Earth Overshoot Day however - it came at a great cost and millions of lives.
The solution is when humans and nature learn to thrive together in equilibrium. This recipe can be found in the 17 Global Goals, for which 193 countries have signed their pledge to.
Earth Overshoot Day has been calculated since 1970. Note the advancement in a period of 10 years:
2000 23 September
1990 11 October
1980 4 November
1970 30 December
Humanity started to consume more than the planet produces and regenerates in the early 1970s, and since then the deadline has been brought forward every year, largely due to increased consumption and population growth.
What happened in the 70s? It was the decade when dependence on oil increased, and airlines (such as Boeing 747) started their commercial trips; it was the year of rockets and moon landings and later, the Industrial Revolution.
This movement helps eco-conscious individuals like you to explore and tackle solutions to contribute positively to move Earth Overshoot Date. Check out their website to learn how to help nature thrive, create a sustainable community, empower ourselves, feed ourselves and discuss population concerns. For instance, if every other family had one less child and parenthood was postponed by two years, by 2050 we would move Overshoot Day by 49 days.
Did you know that you can calculate and discover your ecological footprint? How many planets do we need if everybody lives like you? Find out your own personal Overshoot Day!