While economies, societies, and resource demands grow, the Earth's size remains constant. Unfortunately, our planet has finite and precious resources, and we have been using more natural resources than Earth could regenerate. This phenomenon is known as Earth Overshoot Day -- the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.
The issue here is that ecological overspending days are only allowed for a short period before ecosystems start to degrade. Powered by climate change, humanity is already experiencing its consequences: extreme weather events, deforestation, and biodiversity loss - to name a few. This can create a threat to global economic performance and political stability.
To raise awareness of this pressing challenge, the Global Footprint Network, an international research organization hosting and calculating Earth overshoot day, published an infographic on "Country Overshoot Days" for 2022 (see below). Plan A explains to you the main takeaways of their analysis.
What is Earth's overshoot day?
Here are definitions to help you understand Earth and country overshoot days concept a bit better.
- Earth Overshoot Day marks when humanity’s demand for ecological resources (fish and forests, for instance) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Andrew Simms originally conceived the concept of Earth Overshoot Day while working at the UK think tank New Economics Foundation. The first Earth Overshoot Day campaign was launched in 2006 and monitored annually.
- A country’s overshoot day is when Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in this country.
- The Ecological Footprint measures the amount of biologically productive land and sea area required to produce all the resources a population consumes and absorb its waste. The Ecological Footprint takes every year’s technological advances into account.
- Ecological overshoot occurs when human demand exceeds the regenerative capacity of a natural ecosystem. Global overshoot occurs when humanity demands more than what the biosphere can renew. In other words, humanity’s Ecological Footprint exceeds what the planet can regenerate. The biosphere’s renewable capacity includes replenishing resources and absorbing waste, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
What is driving overshoot days?
Overshoot is driven by four key factors:
- How much we consume.
- How efficiently products are made.
- How many of us there are.
- How much nature's ecosystems can produce.
Suppose we continue on the path predicted by modest United Nations estimates for expanding population and consumption. In that case, data from the Global Footprint Network suggest that we will require the capacity of two earths to meet our level of demand by 2030. It is highly questionable whether such sustained levels of usage are physically achievable. Staying on this trajectory would put the well-being of many of the planet's population increasingly in jeopardy.
Country overshoot days: As of 2022, on average the world is consuming the equivalent of 1.7 Earths
In 2021, Earth overshoot day fell on July 19th. This year, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Qatar and United States have already passed their overshoot days.
🗺️ Country🌍 Number of Earths consumedGermany2.9 EarthsFrance2.9 EarthsUSA5.0 EarthsChina2.3 EarthsSwitzerland2.75 EarthsBrasil1.8 EarthsIndia0.7 EarthsNetherlands3.6 Earths
Which countries consume the most of the Earth?
Calculate your own footprint and how much earth will you consume here.
To reverse the clock on Earth overshoot day, we need immediate collective action to reduce our carbon footprint, drastically reduce our reliance on natural resources and decarbonise our economy. The positive thing is that is still possible within this short window of time.
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