Some might have heard about the Earth Overshoot Day, others not. As the special day comes up this week, we tried to collect to most important information on it. The day vividly shows what problems humanity must face in the future. Following, you can find some facts about the Earth Overshoot Day on the 22nd of August 2020.

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

Let’s start with the most important bit of information: The Earth Overshoot Day is the day that marks the moment when all the natural resources of the world, that are available in one year, have been used up. Sounds devastating? It is indeed. From this day on we live on the expanses of the world. But unlike repayments to a bank like we commonly know it, repaying the earth is not possible in any easy way.

Currently, we use 60% more resources than our planet is able to regenerate in a year – this adds up to an amount that would require a total of 1,5 worlds.

Earth Overshoot Day is based on the ecological footprint of humanity and recalculated every year. In other words, everything we use to meet our resource requirements and make up for the waste and emissions we produce: for example farmland to produce food and forests that can bind emitted CO2. Because those emissions represent 60% of the ecological footprint. We will get back to this later.

Who is the brain behind this?

The founder of the concept of the Earth Overshoot Day was Andrew Simms of the British Think Tank New Economics Foundation. Now, the international research organization Global Footprint Network recalculates the day every year. Since the 1970s, we use more resources in our daily lives than our planet can provide. The Earth Overshoot Day is the day when humanity used up all the natural resources that the planet can regenerate and provide sustainably in a year.

How do we know the exact date?

According to the Global Footprint Network, the calculations that determine the date of the Earth Overshoot Day are based on the ecological footprint of 150 nations. The date is determined by relating the annual demand for resources to the total global biocapacity of that same year. Since the 1970s, we have been talking about an “overshoot” of our planet.

According to the calculations by the Global Footprint Network, we have now reached a state that would require 1.5 earths rather than the one we inhabit. It is assumed that by the middle of the 21st century we will essentially need two worlds and their resources. The biocapacity of the earth is 1.7gha (global hectares per person) per year. However, it is assumed that each person currently consumes 3.3gha on average.

When is Earth Overshoot Day taking place this year?

This year, the Earth Overshoot Day takes place on the 22nd of August.

What was it like in the past years?

The day on which people have used up the annually available natural resources has, for years, always been taking place several weeks earlier than the previous year. Except this year. Global Footprint Network reports that this year the Earth Overshoot Day will be three weeks later compared to 2019 when Earth Overshoot Day already took place on the 29th of July.

This is probably due to the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus and the resulting lockdowns. Correspondingly, an improvement could be seen worldwide. This year, a 50-year upward trend is being interrupted for the first time.  Less consumption of wood and lower CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels could be the reasons for this, reports the Global Footprint Network.

Nevertheless, the pandemic-related decrease in CO2 emissions is not sufficient to achieve a long-term balance. Remember, this is precisely what is considered desirable. If CO2 emissions are reduced in the long term, much has been achieved. If additionally, 50% less fossil fuels were used, then the Earth Overshoot Day could be postponed by three months.

Past Earth Overshoot Days

Is there something similar on a smaller scale?

In addition to the Earth Overshoot Day, some countries also have a specific Country Overshoot Day. This is the day on which a country has used up all its natural resources available for the year. Of course, not every country has a Country Overshoot Day. If the ecological footprint, which we mentioned earlier, is less than 1.63gha, then the country’s consumption of natural resources is not critical. The German Country Overshoot Day 2020 already took place on the 3rd of May. Since then, we have been living on the expenses of the earth. And with this, Germany’s position is rather bad in global comparison. Another example: The situation is even worse in Qatar (1st place): there the Country Overshoot Day already took place on February 11.

What does Energy Labs do?

We have already pointed out that lower CO2 emissions would be an important way to postpone the Earth Overshoot Day. Our innovative hardware and software that we use to reduce the voltage level in buildings, and thereby reducing power consumption, has an additional, great side effect: in reducing the power consumption by 5%-13%, we can achieve the same reduction of the CO2 emissions. Here, you can find further information on our energy saving as a service: ActiveEnergy.

What can I do as an individual?

Earth Overshoot Day shows how sustainable humanity acts. But this also means that, in addition to government efforts, climate protest movements and increasing awareness of individuals, everyone must make their contribution: buying regionally and seasonally, eating less meat, re- and upcycling old clothes and objects. All these are possibilities that can be implemented in our everyday life.

Would you be interested in a list of tips regarding this topic? Leave us a comment.

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