Today (Thursday, July 28) marks the day at which humanity has used all biological resources that the earth regenerates during an entire year, also known as ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, according to the Global Footprint Network.

While this year’s Earth Overshoot Day leaves 156 days until the end of the year, to renew everything humanity currently demands from nature would take the biocapacity of 1.75 earths, the research organisation said.

Reducing global meat production by 50% would move the day back by 17 days, as half of the earth’s biocapacity is used for producing food. Animal calories are significantly more resource intensive to produce than plant calories. The organisation said:

“If we prevent food loss and food waste, prefer plant-based foods, and choose foods that are grown with agroecological and regenerative practices, we could move Earth Overshoot Day by 32 days.”

The persistence of overshoot has led to a significant decline in biodiversity, excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, and food and energy insecurity due to increased competition, the organisation said.

Image source: The Global Footprint Network

While the Earth Overshoot Day has fallen ever sooner over the past 50 years, the organisation outlined further possibilities to reduce the overshoot and remain economically viable:

  • Reducing global food waste by 50% would move the date of Earth Overshoot Day back by 13 days;
  • Upgrading global urban bicycle infrastructure, to a level currently found in the Netherlands, has the potential to move the date back by 9 days;
  • Cost-competitive on-shore wind energy has the potential to move the date by at least 10 days.

Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, Gustavo Manrique, hosted a special event to mark Earth Overshoot Day 2022. He said:

“Earth Overshoot Day demonstrates that the current system of production and consumption is not compatible with the intention to continue to inhabit this planet.

“To better protect our natural resources and manage our demand for them, it is necessary to take concrete joint actions aimed at a new development model based on sustainability and regeneration.”

Global Footprint Network founder, Mathis Wackernagel, who joined the special event, said that resource security is becoming an essential parameter of economic strength.

“It is in the interest of every city, company, or country to protect its own ability to operate in the inevitable future of more climate change and resource constraints,” he added.