Earth Overshoot Day: Over Earth’s Budget


With Earth Day, World Ocean Day, World Clean Up Day and so on, each of these days aims to raise awareness for the important things in our life that we often take for granted. Such as protecting the earth, cleaning up the ocean, and so on. This applies to Earth Overshoot Day. Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? Earth Overshoot Day has been around for awhile, however, unlike Earth Day and World Clean Up Day, people seem to be less familiar with it.
Why though? Earth Overshoot Day is a very important day as it shows us humans how much we have been consuming and presents us with a warning. So, what is Earth Overshoot Day and what should we do to help?

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

First, Earth Overshoot Day is not a day that is set every year, instead it is reflective of our human actions. Earth Overshoot Day is an estimate “when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year” (Shaffer and Diep). In simple terms, Earth Overshoot Day is the day when us humans have used all the ecosystems resources that the earth can generate in that one year.

Earth Overshoot Day graphic of yearly dates

For 2020, the Earth Overshoot Day is August 22nd, which means by August 23, we have used up the amount of resources that earth could generate for 2020. Not only are we in deficit with the excess amount of waste, carbon footprint and so on, we create an even bigger gap between the amount we use and the amount the earth can create. This gap is important because if we keep on using it without thinking about the future and plan ahead, we have become a sustainable earth. We will soon run out of resources, thus, causing a variety of problems, earth becomes inhabitable, starvation, and so on. The ultimate goal for Earth Overshoot Day is to raise awareness and have people get together and try to push back the overshoot day, such as the #MoveTheDate Campaign and so on.

P.S. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day is one of the latest one in the decade, this is partially due to Co-VID 19.

Earth Overshoot Day is Important

Why is Earth Overshoot Day important or necessarily? The answer is that we often take things for granted, and it is important that we understand how much we are using up so we can think about the future. Up to now, we often take mother nature’s resources for granted, while before you it seems like there is an unlimited amount of resources. However, with Earth Overshoot Day, we realize that is not the case, there is a limited amount of resources available and we are in a deficit. The Earth Overshoot Day is a reminder that we consume more than we have and that we need to do something about it.

How is Earth Overshoot Day calculated?

Each year Global Footprint Network would carefully calculate the overshoot day. Global Footprint Network would carefully get the most reliable information and numbers for Earth’s biocapacity and humanity’s ecological footprint. It is important to know that this Earth Overshoot Day is an estimate as it is hard to get 100% accurate information and calculations. But please know that Global Footprint Network tries their best to get the most accurate information.

To put it simply, here is the formula for calculating Earth Overshoot Day:
(Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

So what does earth biocapacity and humanity’s ecological footprint mean?
Earth Biocapacity is the amount of natural resources available, such as “[earth’s] biologically productive land and sea area, including forest lands, grazing lands, cropland, fishing grounds, and built-up land” (Shaffer and Diep).
Humanity’s Ecological Footprint stands for the resources that we use up, such as “plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels”(Shaffer and Diep).

How to get involved!

Earth Overshoot Day campaign graphic
According to Global Footprint Network, we still have time. We might be able to change the past, but we can definitely make better choices for the future. “While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other. The good news is that this transformation is not only technologically possible, it is also economically beneficial and our best chance for a prosperous future”(Shaffer and Diep). Learn more about Earth Overshoot Day to be involved, looking ways you can change or contribute.

The #MoveTheDate campaign is a great way to participate in Earth Overshoot Day. There are many ways to push back the Earth Overshoot Day. For example, reducing food waste, participating in clean up events and many ethical and eco-friendly activities. Check out zero waste, plastic free and other articles that can help push the day back. In addition, Global Footprint Network has created a quick page where you can find out your own personal overshoot day. Plus, once you get the result, they provide you with ways to reduce your footprint and so on. Or you can donate to organizations that make an effort to push the date back. Raise awareness about Earth Overshoot Day, so more people can participate and become aware of the issue.

For Next Year & For Future

Beautiful Sunset by the Mountains and lake
Now you know about Earth Overshoot Day, why it is important, the actions we can take to push back Earth Overshoot Day and how we individually can make a difference. What are you still waiting for? Join the #MoveTheDate movement, start your ethical lifestyle to help protect and cherish our earth. As we know, the earth does not have unlimited resources and right now we are in the deficiency. It is our job to conserve and help replenish and not take mother nature for granted, because things are going to get hard with climate change and other global issues. I hope that now that you know about Earth Overshoot Day, you are motivated to make some changes for earth and the rest of humanity.

Shaffer, Michelle, and Amanda Diep. “Earth Overshoot Day 2020.” 12 Sept. 2020. Web. 30 Sept. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!