Outlook

Earth Overshoot Day: today, August 8th, the Earth runs out of resources

Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian

On this day we start consuming more resources than the Planet can give us. In 2015, the Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 13th.

Game over. Whether you’re lying on a beach you reached with a comfortable but energy-consuming plane, or you’re at work with freezing cold A.C., keep in mind that August 8th is the Earth Overshoot Day, the day of the year in which we start consuming more resources than the Earth can regenerate.

The maths was done by the Global Footprint Network, the international research organisation that every year measures the consumption rate of the Earth’s resources. This year, the Earth Overshoot Day falls on August 8th: this appointment seems to come always sooner, considering that in 2015 it fell on August 15th. This means that resource consumption is far from slowing down.

Starting from this day we emit more carbon dioxide than the Earth’s oceans and forests can absorb, and deplete fishing areas and forests faster than they can reconstitute themselves.

CO2 emissions are the fastest growing environment exploitation component: the so-called carbon footprint determines 60% of humanity’s natural resources demand (ecological footprint). In order to comply with the targets set by the Paris climate agreement adopted by almost 200 countries in December 2015, the carbon footprint will have to be gradually reduced down to almost zero by 2050. This calls for a new way of living on this planet.

“Such a new way of living comes with many advantages, and making it happen takes effort – says Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network – The good news is that it is possible with current technology, and financially advantageous with overall benefits exceeding costs. It will stimulate emerging sectors like renewable energy, while reducing risks and costs associated with the impact of climate change on inadequate infrastructure. The only resource we still need more of is political will.”

Some countries, says the Global Footprint Network, are embracing the challenge. For instance, Costa Rica generated 97% of its electricity from renewable sources during the first three months of 2016. Portugal, Germany and Britain also demonstrated very advanced levels of renewable energy capability: this year, 100% of their electricity demand was met by renewables for several minutes or, in the case of Portugal, for several days.

Following the historic Paris agreement, Global Footprint Network and its 25 Earth Overshoot Day partners launched a public engagement campaign aimed at highlighting the significance of resource security in a sustainable world where people and Planet thrive.

With the campaign #pledgefortheplanet, launched on Earth Day, April 22nd, people are invited to make a #pledgefortheplanet ( for example host a vegetarian party, reduce energy consumption…) and share selfies via social media.

As the world population has grown and the consumption has increased, especially with respect to carbon dioxide emissions, over time the Earth Overshoot Day has moved from late September in 2000 to August 8th this year.

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