It’s called “Overshoot Day”, the moment each year when we humans have used up more natural resources that the Earth can renew in 12 months.
And this year that day came on Saturday, August 22nd. Put another way, it would take 1.6 Earths this year to meet the needs of the world’s population in a sustainable way.
The calculations were made by American NGO Global Footprint Network — since 2003 it’s been raising the alarm on the ever faster consumption of an expanding human population on a limited planet.
On the one hand there is our ecological footprint, which includes the spewing out of greenhouse gases — then there is the capacity of the earth’s ecosystems to absorb our waste products and renew ones we have consumed, such as wood from cut down trees in forests.
The worrying part is that overshoot day has been falling earlier and earlier every year.
Global Footprint Network estimates it was December 29th in 1970, November 4th in 1980, October 11th in 1990, September 23rd in 2000 and August 7th in 2010.
This year has been an anomaly because the coronavirus pandemic slowed down human activity, delaying the grim milestone slightly compared to last year.
In 2019 Overshoot Day actually fell on July 29th.
The 2015 Paris climate deal saw nations commit to limit temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels through sweeping emissions cuts.
It also set a safer goal of a 1.5 C cap.
The United Nations says global emissions must fall 7.6 percent annually this decade for that number to be possible.