Earth Overshoot Day
We consume more natural resources than the planet can regenerate
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.
We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.
To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot.
Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:
Earth Overshoot Day 2020 fell on August 22. To include the impacts from the coronavirus pandemic this year, Global Footprint Network combined the most reliable data and formed the most reasonable assumptions to assess humanity’s current resource situation.
Measuring Ecological Wealth
Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures a population’s demand for and ecosystems’ supply of resources and services. These calculations then serve as the foundation for calculating Earth Overshoot Day.
On the supply side, a city, state, or nation’s biocapacity represents its biologically productive land and sea area, including forest lands, grazing lands, cropland, fishing grounds, and built-up land.
On the demand side, the Ecological Footprint measures a population’s demand for plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Both measures are expressed in global hectares—globally comparable, standardized hectares with world average productivity. A hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres
Each city, state or nation’s Ecological Footprint can be compared to its biocapacity. If a population’s demand for ecological assets exceeds the supply, that region runs an ecological deficit. A region in ecological deficit meets demand by importing, liquidating its own ecological assets (such as overfishing), and/or emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
At the global level, ecological deficit and overshoot are the same, since there is no net import of resources to the planet.
The Ecological Footprint is the only metric that measures how much nature we have and how much nature we use. The Footprint helps:
COUNTRIES to improve sustainability and well-being.
LOCAL LEADERS to optimize public project investments
INDIVIDUALS to understand their impact on the planet
Environmental awareness is understanding the fragility of our environment and the importance of its protection. Promoting environmental awareness is an easy way to become an environmental steward and participate in creating a brighter future for our children.
Share Your Knowledge
After you’ve chosen an issue and educated yourself, engage your community, family, and friends in a conversation about the issue’s urgency and importance. By engaging your community in the conversation, you are not only promoting environmental awareness, but you may also find opportunities to participate in communal projects or to get involved in other related causes.
Make a Difference
Once you’re well versed in environmental issues, you can use that knowledge to start beneficial projects in your home and/or in your community.
Possible Project Ideas
Instead of driving to work or school, take the bus, carpool, walk, or ride your bike to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA transportation adds to 33% of the total atmospheric CO₂.
Consider investing in appropriate technology like clean power (solar or wind), if not for your home then maybe for a community centre. This supports a transition to clean and renewable energy.
Buy reusable products such as glass bottles, reusable bags and reusable cups. Avoid buying disposable goods such as paper towels, plastic bottles, and plastic bags.
Start composting and recycling, which will help cut down our waste production.
Support local businesses and farmers, and buy organic and pesticide-free food when you can. Or, start your own community garden