We have consumed the Earth’s natural resources for the year

Our demand on nature from the beginning of the year until 22 August has already exceeded the Earth’s capacity to renew itself over the course of the entire year. This means, from today – Earth Overshoot Day – until the end of the year, the global economy is operating in “ecological deficit”.

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day, Global Footprint Network (GFN) calculates the number of days that Earth’s natural resources can provide for what we demand before it can’t regenerate these supplies anymore. GFN bases its calculations on humanity’s ‘footprint’ in three areas: carbon, forests, and food.

With restrictions imposed as a result of Covid, this year’s date was pushed back for the first time by three weeks. But that’s all. The fact a global lockdown moved the date by only three weeks shows the systemic issues with society and economics. As consumption gets greater, this day will only get earlier every year. 

Mathis Wackernagel, president of GFN said the result was “not something to celebrate”. “It’s not done by design, it’s done by disaster”. According to calculation estimates, we’ve actually exceeded demand by 56%, even with the pandemic.

Humanity is still living beyond its means. Even accounting for the impact of the pandemic, we would still need 1.6 Earths to meet its demand for resources sustainably.

Although Earth been provided a temporary respite over the last few months, Covid-19 will have a negligible impact on the climate crisis. To avert dangerous levels of warming, consistent year-on-year emissions reductions are vital.

Take action Governments have to prioritise the climate and ecological emergency, but most are not. In the meantime, we have the power to take action into our own hands and apply as much pressure on our governments as possible. View the icons below to see what can be done:


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