Earth Overshoot Day: When the World Uses More Than It Can Regenerate

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The world is depleting natural resources like timber, productive soil, clean water and air much faster than the planet can regenerate them. Photo Credit: Unsplash

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On July 29 it was 2019 Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the day of the year by which we have used as many natural resources as Earth can renew in an entire year. It’s the day humanity has “blown its budget” of things like clean air, water, productive soil and timber.

People first started using more than the world can produce in the 1970s, and this year the “overshoot date” is the earliest it has ever been. Mathis Wackernagel, founder and president of the Global Footprint Network, said it’s possible to continue to overuse because the earth has stockpiles – but they will eventually run out.

“We can deplete forests we can overfish, we can pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than the biosphere can absorb, etc.” Wackernagel said. “So we can use more for some time, but not forever.”

Conservation groups have been marking Earth Overshoot Day for about 10 years, and their “move the date” campaign aims to convince governments to use fewer resources so the overshoot date moves later and later until supply and demand are once again in balance. The group said the best way to do that is to transition to renewable energy, make buildings more energy efficient, and structure communities so people do less driving and waste less food and water.

Wackernagel said governments could also encourage smaller families by giving women around the world more control over their bodies and their future.

“So as women have equal rights and access to education and economic opportunities as men have, that has a huge impact on family sizes,” he said.

Right now, the world population stands at 7.53 billion and is expected to grow to 11 billion by the year 2100. You can calculate your ecological footprint at

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