Earth Overshoot Day: Humanity Has Exhausted All Earth's Resources for 2023
According to the analysis by the Global Footprint Network, today, humanity starts consuming resources beyond what the planet can regenerate in a year. On the eve of Wednesday, August 2nd, humanity has already used up all available resources that the Earth can produce for 2023, marking the "Earth Overshoot Day." According to estimates by WWF-Belgium, to sustain such consumption, 1.7 planets would be needed.
For instance, if the entire world consumed at the same rate as Belgium, it would require 4.1 planets to satisfy its needs. Only Qatar, Luxembourg, Canada, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia recorded worse results in 2023.
Over the last 50 years, Earth Overshoot Day has been coming earlier and earlier. Those of us in wealthier countries must take this as a reminder of our collective responsibility to live more consciously and choose more sustainable practices.
"Such overshoot is possible only for a limited time," emphasized Koene Staem, the head of climate policy and ecological footprint at WWF.
This level of consumption is not without consequences and has a serious impact on ecosystems, which degrade and even collapse due to their excessive exploitation. Among these consequences are water shortages, floods, forest fires, soil erosion, deforestation, or species extinction.
In addition to the depletion of natural resources, the burning of fossil fuels and the pollution it creates through carbon dioxide emissions also contribute to an early Earth Overshoot Day. The planet is no longer capable of absorbing them properly. The tangible evidence of this planetary boundary overshoot includes weather catastrophes and raging fires that have been occurring in various parts of the world since the beginning of the summer.
According to the Global Footprint Network rating, over a quarter of the world's countries do not exceed their resource consumption. However, the problem of reducing our ecological footprint lies in the fact that most of these countries are characterized by poverty. Wealthier countries, which excessively burn fossil fuels, have not yet taken significant, but entirely achievable steps to live without them.
There are relatively simple solutions to move Earth Overshoot Day back. Increasing the share of low-carbon electricity sources from 39% to 75% worldwide would extend the end date by 26 days. Reducing food waste by half would add another 13 days. Using permaculture methods would save an additional two days.