Every year, The Global Footprint Network (GFN) calculates how much of the Earth’s resources humans use, from water to air, and the day each year when humans overshoots the planet’s ability to annually regenerate itself. This year, Overshoot Day came the earliest since 1970, when calculations began, namely on August 1st.
The GFN calculates the date by dividing the planet’s ecological resources generated each year, namely its biocapacity, by the totality of humanity’s demand on those resources. To do so, it uses 15,000 data points collected by the United Nations for each country starting with 1961. The points are categorized into four main factors: how much people consume, how efficiently we make stuff, the earth’s population, and nature’s productivity.
According to the GFN, “One year is no longer enough to regenerate humanity’s annual demand on the planet, even using conservative data sets.” In other words, we are living beyond our means. GFN data shows that 86 percent of countries are currently living beyond their means, creating an “ecological deficit.” The degradation is linked to drought, deforestation, collapsed fisheries, and greenhouse-gas emissions, which cause massive dislocation, species extinctions and economic damage.
Of course, some countries are far worse than others. If every country in the world consumed resources at the rate Americans so, overshoot day would fall on March 15. Currently, five countries are worse than the US.
In 2018, humans will use up the equivalent of 1.7 Earths. Under a business as usual scenario, by 2030 two earths will be needed to keep up with demand.
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