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Earth Overshoot Day marks a grim milestone in 2023

The date at which we use more resources than Earth can replenish in a given year is creeping earlier.
Wednesday, August 2 marks this year's Earth Overshoot Day
Posted at 7:37 PM, Aug 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-04 11:10:08-04

Wednesday, August 2 marks Earth Overshoot Day for 2023, the date each year at which humans have consumed more natural resources than Earth can naturally replenish in one year's time.

Every year, the nonprofit Global Footprint Network uses U.N. data to calculate the supply and demand for ecological categories. On the supply side, it counts things like productive land, fresh water and fishing grounds. Demand is measured from categories including livestock or fish production, wood and paper products, and the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on the forests that absorb them.

A region, whether it's a town or a country, may run either an ecological surplus, or deficit.

Worldwide, when the combined deficit exceeds what the planet can provide, human society is considered to be in overshoot.

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The first Earth Overshoot Day was calculated in 1971. At the time, it fell on December 25th of that year.

In the years since then, growing demand has pushed the date of overshoot earlier in the year, on average. Today, humans use roughly 70% more resources that Earth is capable of regenerating each year.

The Global Footprint Network uses Overshoot Day to both highlight the impact of our use of natural resources, and promote solutions that can help chip away at each year's deficit, at all scales of society.

It calculates that more secondhand use of clothing, for example, might move the overshoot date 5 days later in the year. Widespread adoption of ambitious nation-level legislation like the Green New Deal could push the overshoot date back more than a month.


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