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Earth Overshoot Day

Each year it happens sooner: we have already reached the Earth Overshoot Day

The 2nd of August we reached the Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date when humanity exceeds the amount of annual ecological resources or Earth biocapacity that the planet is able to generate that specific year. Therefore, the humanity's ecological footprint or resources demand for that year cannot be satisfied after that day without impacting, inter alia, the fauna and flora as well as biodiversity.

When was the Earth Overshoot Day in the previous decades? 

In the 70s and early 80s, the Earth Overshoot Day used to occur during November or December of the specific year, as stated in the Accounts 2023 Edition of the National Footprint and Biocapacity (Earth Overshoot Day Org, 2023)1. During the late 80s and 90s, it happened during October and September. In the 21st century, it worsened even more until exceeding the annual resources in August, according to data offered by the same organization.

What are the solutions out there to delay the date? 

The world's population has grown rapidly over the last two centuries. The total population is estimated to reach 8 billion in 2023, in contrast with the data from the 70s when it was 4 billion (Statista, 2023)2. In 2060, global population is expected to grow until 10 billion according to the same source3. If we consider the growth rate predictions and how we already exhausted the Earth biocapacity, the situation can be potentially hazardous in the upcoming decades.

There are several ways to take action to delay the Earth Overshoot Day, which are also covered by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, we can reduce global meat consumption, cut food waste, provide access to affordable and sustainable transport systems, foster reforestation, reduce the carbon footprint, provide affordable and clean energy, and facilitate the emergence and development of new technologies that can contribute to energy-efficiency and accelerate the energy transition.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report (UN, 2023)

The SDGs progress at the midpoint towards 2023 presents several challenges, as half of the targets show deviations from the established goals and more than 30% have not progressed or demonstrate a significant regression (UN, 2023)4.

Floodings, hurricanes, extreme temperatures, dryness, rising sea levels, fires, and much more is actually happening everywhere. It is already late, but we need to address these challenges now. We need to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 °C or even further to 1,5°C , decarbonize our economy and reduce the discrepancies between our ecological footprint and the Earth's renewable resources.

Innovation and emerging technologies are there to accelerate the energy transition and determine new paths that can foster the integration of renewable energy and decarbonization. We are all in this together because everyone of us will be distressed by climate change. We can delay the Earth Overshoot Day and boost a sustainable future if we do it together.

1  Earth Overshoot Day Organization (2023). National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2023 Edition. Searched on the 3rd August 2023.
2 Statista (2023). Number of years taken for the world population to double in size from selected points between 837 and 2023. Searched on the 3rd of August 2023.
3 Statista (2023). Forecast about the development of the world population from 2022 to 2100. Searched on the 3rd of August 2023.
4 United Nations (2023). The Sustainable Development Goals Report; pg. 8.
Author: Iris Blay
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