The world has reached what is called ‘World Overshoot Day‘ – the point in the year when humans have exhausted supplies such as land, trees and fish and outstripped the planet’s annual capacity to absorb waste products including carbon dioxide.


Image via the Global Journal.

But that’s not half of it – things are actually getting worse, with the planet slipping into ecological debt sooner and sooner. In 2000, the Overshoot Day was in October, and now, it’s in mid-August. Back in the 1960s,, humans used only around three-quarters of the capacity Earth has for generating food, timber, fish and absorbing greenhouse gases. Back then, only a few countries consumed more than they produce, and our global footprint was sustainable.

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But today, 86% of the world’s population lives in countries who spend more resources than they can sustainably produce. The Global Footprint Network, which calculates earth overshoot day estimates that at our current rate of consumption, it would take us 1.5 Earths to sustainably produce all the resources we need need. Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network, said:

“Global overshoot is becoming a defining challenge of the 21st century. It is both an ecological and economic problem. Countries with resource deficits and low incomes are exceptionally vulnerable. Even high-income countries that have had a financial advantage to shield themselves from the most direct impacts of resource dependence need to realise that a long-term solution requires addressing such dependencies before they turn into a significant economic stress.”

Basically, it may seem like “just an environmental problem”, but it will turn into an economical problem really soon. With fish stocks dropping, global warming causing droughts and freak weather, sea levels rising, pollutants gathering into the atmosphere and the soil more and more – there will be a price to pay for all of this. Hopefully, we will make the necessary adjustments on the go, without having to go through a Malthusian catastrophe.