Earth Overshoot Day (Thursday August 13th, 2015), marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.
To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in 2015:
(Planet’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
Measuring Ecological Wealth
Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures a population’s demand for and ecosystems’ supply of resources and services. These calculations then serve as the foundation for calculating Earth Overshoot Day.
On the supply side, a city, state, or nation’s biocapacityrepresents its biologically productive land and sea area, including forest lands, grazing lands, cropland, fishing grounds, and built-up land.
On the demand side, the Ecological Footprintmeasures a population’s demand for plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.
Both measures are expressed in global hectares—globally comparable, standardized hectares with world average productivity. A hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.
Each city, state or nation’s Ecological Footprint can be compared to its biocapacity. If a population’s demand for ecological assets exceeds the supply, that region runs an ecological deficit. A region in ecological deficit meets demand by importing, liquidating its own ecological assets (such as overfishing), and/or emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
At the global level, ecological deficit and overshoot are the same, since there is no net import of resources to the planet.
The concept of Earth Overshoot Day was first conceived by Andrew Simms of the UK think tank New Economics Foundation, which partnered with Global Footprint Network in 2006 to launch the first global Earth Overshoot Day campaign. At that time, Earth Overshoot Day fell in October. WWF, the world’s largest conservation organization, has participated in Earth Overshoot Day since 2007.
Here are some suggested steps that you can take to help end Earth Overshoot.
Blue Ventures works to rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities on the front line of many challenges including climate change and over consumption of limited resources. Take action to support our cross sectoral work in marine conservation or volunteer in Madagascar or Belize to see a very different side of life for yourself.
CARE’s response to climate change is rapidly growing to reflect the scope and severity of the challenge. Our overarching objectives are to empower poor and marginalised people to take action on climate change at all levels and to build knowledge for global change. See the climate reality of the communities we partner with and the work we do
Fledge welcomes volunteers and scholars to submit innovative ideas to increase action at the individual and community levels in India to reduce their National Ecological Footprint. The three best ideas will receive a commemorative certificate and a citation. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Plattform Footprint to convince the Austrian Government to pledge binding reductions for ecological footprint and CO2 emissions beyond 2020 and to start implementing the necessary measures immediately!
Ecuador is the only country in Latin America to calculate its National Footprint with official data and include this indicator within its development plan “National Plan for Good Living.” Discover how you can help reduce your Ecological Footprint through simple actions with “You can make the difference / A greener world depends on us.“
Cut C02 emissions by walking, cycling or using public transport instead of the car or motorbike. Discover 365 different individual actions on our “Biodiversity is Us” application for smartphones and tablets.
Seize the biggest business opportunity for the foreseeable future, the transition to a low carbon economy. Join our Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) and collaborate across industries to be part of the climate solution
WWF China:Calculate your personal footprint to learn how many Earths would be required to sustain your lifestyle. Participate in the sustainable consumption week, a campaign involving more than 600 stores in China August 4 to 18 that calls for more sustainable consumption to help reverse overshoot.