Today is Earth Overshoot Day. It’s the day in the year by which we’ll have used up more of the Earth’s natural resources than is sustainable in the long-term. 

From today until the rest of the year, every natural resource we use will be using up more than nature can regenerate.

It sounds bad, and it is. 

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Currently, humankind is using 170% of the world’s natural output. That means we are using up the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.

And, according to the Global Footprint Network, we’re on track to be using two Earths by the end of the 21st Century. 

climate change_hero.jpgImage: lexaarts /

But if we moved the day back by 4.5 days every year, the Network adds, we would return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050 — and we’ve done it before.

In 2011, for example, we pushed the day back by six days. 

But it’s been moving forward every year since, and this year the day has come six days earlier than in 2016, despite international pledges to embrace more sustainable approaches and cut humankind’s Ecological footprint.

In 1963, we used 78% of the Earth’s biocapacity. However by the early 1970s we began to consume more energy than the planet could produce. By 10 years ago, we were using 144% of the Earth’s biocapacity, reports The Telegraph.


The two greatest contributing factors to humanity’s Ecological Footprint are carbon emissions, which accounts for 60%, and food, 26%. 

If we cut our carbon emissions by half, according to the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day would come 89 days later in the year. 

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If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we could move the date back 11 days. By eating less protein-intensive food, we could move it back 31 days. 

Currently, Australia makes the largest demand on the Earth’s resources, followed by the USA. The UK, despite being much smaller, is still 8th on the list. 

The Global Footprint Network has created a calculator that means you can work out what the Overshoot Day would be if everyone on Earth lived like you. 


Defend the Planet

What Is Earth Overshoot Day and Why Should You Be Very Concerned?

By Imogen Calderwood