We Need 1.6 Planets to Sustain Us

Every year, the Global Footprint Network (GFN) calculates Earth Overshoot Day. This is the day when our consumption exceeds the regeneration of nature on our planet. Last year this happened in July – however, due to the coronavirus, it was recorded on 22 August this year. As human activity has been limited, the earth has had a little bit of a chance to recover.

Interestingly, Earth Overshoot Day happens on different days for other countries. Some of the biggest consumers of the world’s resources are Qatar, whose Earth Overshoot Day is in February, and United Arab Emirates and America, where it is recorded in March. Countries such as Cuba, Iraq and Indonesia seem to consume the least, with the day being set in December.

Earth Overshoot Day was first recorded in 1970, and there has been a significant downward trend since then:

1980 – 4 November

1990 – 11 October

2000 – 23 September

2010 – 7 August

2019 – 29 July

Since the 1970s, not only have our lifestyles changed but the earth’s population has almost doubled. This has led to the consumption of more of its resources. The GFN has stated that humanity needs 1.6 planets to sustain itself at our current rate.

Whilst the GFN believes that progress has been made this year, we must be aware that this is only due to us being restricted from our usual everyday activities during the COVID-19 lockdown. We couldn’t go shopping, we drove less and we didn’t go on holiday. Many of the activities we take for granted leave a footprint on the earth.

Through research, the GFN has found that it is possible for us to live within our yearly ecological budget by making changes to food production, transport and power generation. It is estimated that if global meat consumption fell by 50%, we would save 17 days a year. And if we cycled or took public transport instead of driving, it would save 13 days.

There is a current movement where people are making a difference called #MoveTheDate. To find out more, take a look at the Earth Overshoot Day website here.