"Earth Overshoot Day": from this Wednesday, August 2, humanity lives on credit

This Wednesday, August 2, marks the day when humanity will have exhausted all the resources that the planet can offer. Every year since 2006, the NGO Global Footprint Network has published this data. It is a calculation made between the ecological footprint of human activities and the Earth's capacity to regenerate itself and absorb our pollution.

An aerial view shows a partially dry reservoir surrounded by vineyards in the fields of Sumarroca, south of Barcelona, Spain, July 24, 2023. REUTERS - ALBERT GEA

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In 2023, the "overshoot day" fell by five days compared to 2022. This is the first time in several decades – not counting the period of the health crisis – that a decline has been observed. But we must not claim victory too quickly. Of these five days of decline, four are due to improved data from the Global Footprint Network, which publishes it in partnership with WWF France. This year, the American NGO was able to take into account more detailed elements concerning overfishing, deforestation and the absorption of carbon by the oceans. We should therefore really talk about a day's gap compared to 2022.

For Jean Rousselot, head of freshwater at WWF France, it is impossible to know if this very slight delay is due to a real effort to decarbonize the global economy: "But, in any case, globally, it is a stagnation that we have today, he tempers. So, this is a message that is rather negative since it has been almost ten years that we stagnate on this day and that this day does not recede in the calendar ».

"Ecological deficit"

Now that we have passed this famous day, we are living on credit, in other words in ecological deficit: "If we wanted to respect the major international agreements, this date would have to be pushed back by 19 days each year for the next seven years to arrive at the objective of less than 43% greenhouse gas emissions in 2030", says Jean Rousselot.

For some countries, the overshoot day is much earlier in the year, as in France, where the deadline is 5 May. If the whole world lived like the French, it would take the equivalent of 2.9 Earths.

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  • Climate change
  • Environment