Earth Overshoot Day is the date when we have effectively consumed more resources than the planet can naturally replenish over the course of that entire year.
The day has shown a trend for appearing earlier and earlier since its inception – and today marks its earliest recorded point.
It means the planet has already consumed a year’s worth of resources in just seven months.
Humanity is now consuming the Earth’s natural resources at around 1.7 times faster than they can be naturally replaced – essentially this means an increasingly unsustainable way of life.
An overshoot day can be calculated for an individual country – the earliest national overshoot day was Qatar (9 February) and the latest was Vietnam (21 December). The UK passed its national overshoot on 8 May.
The current deficit in natural resources is made possible by sacrificing more natural resources and accumulating waste, mainly carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, within the atmosphere.
In order to determine the date of an Earth overshoot day the Global Footprint Network, an international think tank, calculates the number of days that Earth’s biocapacity – the ability to renew what people use – can support humanity’s ecological footprint.
The think tank has identified four key areas that could help in pushing the date back in the future.
Some of the suggestions that could potentially shift the date back include: rethinking the way we heat and cool our cities, making a move towards renewable energy sources, enjoying a local, vegetable-based diet and focusing on smaller families.
A campaign on social media to #MoveTheDate, also run by the Global Footprint Network, aims to raise awareness and encourage everyone to think about their own footprint.
An online footprint calculator is available from the group so that people are able to calculate their own overshoot day.