We Just Hit a Disappointing Mark: Earth Overshoot Day

We've used all that the planet can regenerate in a year
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2021 10:50 AM CDT
We Just Hit a Disappointing Mark: Earth Overshoot Day
The Global Footprint Network says deforestation caused a 0.5% decline in global forest biocapacity last year.   (Getty Images/richcarey)

Today is "Earth Overshoot Day," the day in the year when humans have used more resources than the planet can regenerate and created more pollution than it can absorb, according to the Global Footprint Network. But don't save the date in your calendar—it has arrived earlier almost every year since 1970, when it was Dec. 30. The sustainability organization compares Overshoot Day to a bank balance tracking income versus expenditure, Deutsche Welle reports. It compares data on resources including forests, farmland, and fishing grounds to demand. The earliest Overshoot Day was July 25, in 2018. Last year, with COVID-related shutdowns, it went back to August 22, but it is now back to where it was in 2019.

Mathis Wackernagel, the organization's founder, tells ABC that demand for resources has returned to pre-pandemic levels. "How long can you use 70% more than Earth can renew?” he says. ”You can use more than your interest payment for some time, but it reduces the asset base. And what we see as a consequence, for example, is the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere or deforestation.” The group says the date could be pushed back with moves including cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing food waste, and replanting forests. This year, it is marking Overshoot Day with a 100 Days of Possibility initiative, focusing on projects including mangrove restoration and low-carbon concrete. (More natural resources stories.)

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