By July 29 this year, humanity has already consumed all the natural resources that our planet Earth is able to sustainably supply, and we have produced more waste than the Earth can absorb in that time.
Earth’s resources should have lasted us for 365 days, but this year, it has only lasted 210 days according to the Global Footprint Network, with emissions increasing by 6.6 per cent, a loss of global forest biocapacity and deforestation of the Amazon. We are overshooting by five months and anything we use after this date is being taken from our future.
In 2010, it was August 6.
In 2000, it was September 22.
In 1990 it was October 10.
In 1980, it was November 4.
In 1970, it was December 30.
Along current trends, Global Footprint Network concludes that we will need 1.7 Earths to meet humanity’s use of resources by 2030. We are in trouble since we only have one!
It is overwhelming to think about the impacts of global ecological overshoot. From biodiversity loss, climate emergencies and extreme weather events, we’re increasingly facing a summer of extreme heatwaves, droughts and wildfires; and it is forecasted to get worse going forward.
As the size, population and wealth of countries grow, what can we do to thrive?
Our planet: Help nature thrive. Our quality of life is so dependent on the health of our planet’s resources including clean water, clean air and fertile soil.
Our food: We must produce, distribute and consume food better. Shop locally, eat less animal products and avoid highly processed foods. If all countries consumed at the rate of Germany, we would need 2.9 Earths; at the rate of Australians, we would need 3 Earths; and at the rate of the US, we would need five Earths.
Our cities: With over 80% of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050, it is vital to design and manage cities and urban development smartly to balance the supply of natural capital and population’s demand.
Our energy: Decarbonizing our economy is our best possible chance to address climate change. Use planes and cars less. Offset our carbon footprint.
Our population: Have less children. We must tackle overpopulation, educate girls and empower women. The number of the global middle class is expected to grow from 3.5 million in 2017 to over 5 million in 2030.
Our voice: Campaign boldly for political and social change.
A country will only have an overshoot day if their Ecological Footprint per person is greater than global biocapacity per person (1.63 gha). The disparity between countries is huge.
In Switzerland where NOW is headquartered, Earth Overshoot Day was the 11th of May. We would need 1.79 Earths if everyone lived like the Swiss!