If you follow the news a little bit, this information has not escaped you : since July 29, 2019, humanity lives on credit, well beyond the available terrestrial resources. Thus, according to the research organization Global Footprint Network which calculates every year the “Earth Overshoot Day”, 1.75 planet would be needed to meet the current needs of the world. But what exactly does this mean and what is it particularly worrying about ?
What is the “Earth Overshoot Day” ?
Each year, the independent research organization Global Footprint Network calculates an “Earth Overshoot Day” for the current year. For this, it is based on the ecological footprint of men : the only measure to compare the demand for resources of individuals, governments and businesses in relation to the resources that the Earth is capable of generating each year : trees, water, fertile soils, fish… The “Earth Overshoot Day” corresponds to the overcoming of men’s needs compared to the natural resources available. In 2019, this day falls on July 29th. Since then, humanity has been living on credit, barely eight months after the beginning of the year. Until the end of December, we will live beyond the resources that the planet is capable of producing for this year.
A day of passing more and more each year
Because the ecological footprint is not the same for all, the “Earth Overshoot Day” falls sooner or later depending on the country. Thus, due to its intense economic activity, Qatar is the first to have reached the “Earth Overshoot Day” on February 2, 2019. The United States, Canada, Australia… have also exceeded their quota of natural resources and started their “ecological debt” very early in the year. Conversely, less developed countries such as Niger, Indonesia, Egypt or Colombia have their “Earth Overshoot Day” much later, in November-December.
Since the creation of this concept in 1971, the Global Footprint Network’s conclusion is clear : the “Earth Overshoot Day” occurs more and more each year. December 29 in 1971, November 11 in 1981, October 10 in 1991, September 22 in 2001, August 4 in 2011 and finally July 29 in 2019. Thus, the year 2019 marks the day of overrun on earlier never recorded so far. Now that we live on credit, each day increases our ecological debt a little more. If the world population lived like the French, it would take 2.7 planets to keep pace with the current consumption of resources. The United States, meanwhile, would need 5 planets !
Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels alone account for 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint. Overconsumption and management of natural resources must therefore be at the heart of our priorities in order to postpone the “Earth Overshoot Day” in the coming years.