World “Celebrates” Earliest Earth Overshoot Day
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. In this image: An environmental militant shows an orange, painted as a globe, during an event to mark the Earth Overshoot Day on Aug. 1, 2018, in Berlin, Germany. Getty Images/Tobias Schwarz

On Aug. 1, the world “celebrated” Earth Overshoot Day, marking the date when our demand for earth’s ecological resources and services for this year has officially exceeded what it could have regenerated in the year.

This year’s Earth Overshoot Day marks the earliest date it was ever recorded in history, since the world first went into ecological overshoot in the 1970s, which is really not something to be celebrated.

Currently, people are using resources at a rate of 1.7 times faster than the earth can generate in a year. That means people are using resources at a rate that can only be renewed if there were 1.7 Earths. The date has increasingly come earlier each year and unless adequate steps are taken, Earth might run out of resources soon.

The day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network, an international think-tank that coordinates research, by using “Ecological Footprint accounting,” that calculates demands on nature like food, timber, and fiber; carbon emission absorption from fossil fuel burning; and buildings, roads, and infrastructure that take up land.

To calculate the Earth Overshoot Day, Earth’s biocapacity and humanity’s ecological footprint has to be calculated. Earth’s biocapacity is the amount of ecological resources that Earth can re-generate in a year. Ecological footprint is humanity’s demand for those resources. Both are calculated in global standardized hectares.

The Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the biocapacity of the planet by human ecological footprint, which is then multiplied by 365 or the number of days in the year. (Planet’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day.

Specific Country’s Overshoot Dates are also calculated on the website. U.S.' Overshoot Day was on March 15, this means if the world lived like people in the U.S., the Earth Overshoot Day would have happened by the third month of the year.

This “ecological overspending” increases deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, scarcity of fresh-water and fishes. It also increases the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which can result in severe droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and other weather disasters around the world, on a large scale. This ultimately produces severe climate change as well.

The Global Footprint Network began the hash tag #MOVETHEDATE with the aim of pushing the date of Earth Overshoot Day backward in the coming years.

Four solution areas were identified by the Global Footprint Network to push back the Earth Overshoot Day: Cities, Energy, Food and Population.

The Overshoot Day can be pushed back by 12 days by reducing driving by 50 percent and replacing it with public transport for one-third car miles and the rest with walking and biking. 93 days can be brought back by reducing the component of humanity’s Ecological Footprint by 50 percent. By cutting food waste in half, reducing Footprint intensity diets and consuming world-average calories, the Overshoot Day can be brought back 38 days. If one in two families opted to have one less child, the Overshoot day will be moved 30 days by 2050.

“As we mark Earth Overshoot Day, today may seem no different from yesterday — you still have the same food in your refrigerator,” Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel said in a press release. “But fires are raging in the Western United States. On the other side of the world, residents in Cape Town have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet.”

“Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet. We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt,” Wackernagel added. “It’s time to end this ecological Ponzi scheme and leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction.”