As of August 2, 2017, the world has used up its allowance for water, soil, clean air and other resources on Earth for the whole of 2017.
This makes August 2 the Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) for 2017, as calculated by environmental groups WWF and the Global Footprint Network.
Earth Overshoot Day marks that calendar date when humanity’s consumption of natural resources trumps Earth’s ability to renew those resources that year. After August 2, humanity will survive on “credit” until December 31.
In a grim distinction, EOD fell extremely early this year – earlier than ever before. EOD has been calculated every year since 1986.
An economic and ecological term, EOD is the calendar date on which humanity’s resource consumption for that year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate/renew those resources that year.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year) by the world ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year) and multiplying this product by 365, the number of days in one calendar year.
EOD was calculated by environmental groups WWF and the Global Footprint Network
“By August 2, 2017, we will have used more from Nature than our planet can renew in the whole year,” the groups said in a statement. “This means that in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period.”
“Our planet is finite, but human possibilities are not. Living within the means of one planet is technologically possible, financially beneficial, and our only chance for a prosperous future,” said Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint. “We hope our new Footprint Calculator enables millions more people around the world to explore sustainability solutions and gain an uplifting sense of the possibilities available to society.”
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community is extremely concerned by the narrowing gap between January 1 and Earth Overshoot Day. As it narrows, humanity increasingly lives on “credit” for the rest of the year, with more depletion of natural resources and carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere.
The costs of this global ecological overspending include deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
At current consumption rates, the equivalent of 1.7 planets would be required to produce enough to meet humanity’s needs.
We don’t have 1.7 planets: we only have one.
It’s time to – as the Global Footprint Network put it in its campaign – #movethedate. If we moved Earth Overshoot Day back 4.5 days every year, we would return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050.
To #movethedate, there needs to be dedicated commitment from individuals and governments. Governments are already doing their part with implementing the Paris Agreement and adapting renewable energy.
But for a meaningful extension of EOD, even personal EODs should be extended. A personal Earth Overshoot Day earlier than August 2 means your demand on nature is higher than the world average.
You can calculate your personal EOD and learn about how you can make your lifestyle more eco-friendly here.