Earth Overshoot Day

Richard Boothman

Though the primary focus of ACE is on climate breakdown, it is clear that many of our pressing environmental problems are linked. One of the many issues we have to contend with is depletion of natural resources. This means we are using minerals faster than they can be replenished through natural regeneration. Even some renewable resources, such as timber, are being used more quickly than new trees can be planted or grow. We are also diminishing the ability of the earth and its atmosphere to cope with our waste products, particularly carbon dioxide.

It is, however, a challenge to grasp what this means and how it affects us.

To help us to understand the magnitude of this challenge, the Global Footprint Network developed the concept of “Earth Overshoot Day”. This marks the date in a given year when our demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the earth can regenerate in that year. Because our demand for resources and the amount of waste we generate differs each year, depending on our economic activity and the number of people consuming resources, Earth Overshoot Day happens on a different day each year.

Almost without exception, however, the day is getting earlier every year. This means that we are using more and more of the earth’s capital each year. Reserves for now and the future are diminishing and the earth’s capacity to continue absorbing our wastes is decreasing.

Earth Overshoot Day in 2021 is tomorrow, July 29th. While it is not a day to celebrate, perhaps we ought to mark it in some way?

If you want to know more about Earth Overshoot Day, find out how it was calculated and explore the data behind it, have a look here:

About Earth Overshoot Day

Commiserations and condolences for Earth Overshoot Day!


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