Earth Overshoot Day 2016 landed on August 8, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. For the rest of the year, we are maintaining our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are operating in overshoot.
Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for and supply of natural resources and ecological services. And the data is sobering. Global Footprint Network estimates that approximately every eight months, we demand more renewable resources and CO2 sequestration than what the planet can provide for an entire year.
Earth Overshoot Day is an estimate, not an exact date. It’s not possible to determine with 100 percent accuracy the day we bust our ecological budget. Adjustments of the date that we go into overshoot are due to revised calculations, not ecological advances on the part of humanity.
As Global Footprint Network methodology changes, projections will continue to shift. But every scientific model used to account for human demand and nature’s supply shows a consistent trend: We are well over budget, and that debt is compounding. It is an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt—food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO₂ in our atmosphere—comes with devastating human and monetary costs.