Earth Overshoot Day

Like a child devouring a batch of cookies, we humans are using Mother Earth’s resources faster than she can replenish them. But just how fast?

The Global Footprint Network created Earth Overshoot Day to help us understand. Ideally, humans would finish December 31 having used no more resources than the Earth’s oceans and forests can absorb. Or, even better, less.

But, since the 1970s, human consumption of Earth’s resources has been unsustainable well before that. In 2016, humans used more than our share on August 8.

How Earth Overshoot Day Is Determined

earth overshoot day logo

The Global Footprint Network makes its estimate based on more than 15,000 data points. They assemble figures on things like emissions, food production, even forest fires, to determine whether humans are overdrawn on resources or allowing nature to keep pace. Their data comes mostly from United Nations reports.

Based on the current population and the regenerative capacity of the Earth, everyone on the planet can afford to use the resources of 1.7 hectares. That’s about 3 football fields.

Some Countries Use More Than Their Share

While the world’s consumption is the most important data to track, the Global Footprint Network also tracks the Earth Overshoot Day for individual countries. They look at it in two different ways:

infographic how many planets for a country's consumption

How much land would a country need to match their consumption
Via Earth Overshoot Day.

Past Earth Overshoot Days

The day that we humans overdraft our account with Mother Earth keeps getting earlier and earlier. On the bright side, our overconsumption isn’t accelerating like it did in the 1970s. Still, every year we overconsume puts us deeper and deeper in to ecological debt.

  • 1971: December 24
  • 1972: December 13
  • 1973: November 29
  • 1974: December 1
  • 1975: December 3
  • 1976: November 19
  • 1977: November 13
  • 1978: November 9
  • 1979: October 31
  • 1980: November 5
  • 1981: November 13
  • 1982: November 17
  • 1983: November 16
  • 1984: November 9
  • 1985: November 6
  • 1986: November 1
  • 1987: October 25
  • 1988: October 16
  • 1989: October 13
  • 1990: October 13
  • 1991: October 12
  • 1992: October 14
  • 1993: October 15
  • 1994: October 13
  • 1995: October 7
  • 1996: October 4
  • 1997: October 2
  • 1998: October 3
  • 1999: October 2
  • 2000: September 25
  • 2001: September 26
  • 2002: September 22
  • 2003: September 13
  • 2004: September 5
  • 2005: August 29
  • 2006: August 24
  • 2007: August 19
  • 2008: August 20
  • 2009: August 24
  • 2010: August 14
  • 2011: August 11
  • 2012: August 11
  • 2013: August 10
  • 2014: August 10
  • 2015: August 9
  • 2016: August 8

Written by Seth Kolloen

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