Mankind’s consumption of resources is greater than ever

Earth Overshoot Day
Mankind’s consumption of resources is greater than ever

Old and new forms of energy in one picture: Hard coal in a coal port on the Mittelland Canal and a wind turbine in the background

© Mia Bucher / Picture Alliance

To represent the wasteful use of resources by humans, one can calculate the Earth Overshoot Day. On this date, humanity has theoretically used up its annual budget of natural resources – and it is coming earlier and earlier.

The day when humanity has used up its natural resource budget for the year has already been reached on July 29, 2021. The so-called “Earth Overshoot Day” has never been so early in the year since the beginning of the measurement. About 42 percent of the year was left for which the world’s resources should theoretically have been saved. According to the experts, Earth Overshoot Day will fall in July again this year – probably even earlier than 2021.

Earth Overshoot Day: Mankind's consumption of resources is greater than ever

The date of Earth Overshoot Day has advanced a full two months in the last 20 years, according to the Global Footprint Network. Only the year 2020 was a slight turning point in the trend. The global shutdown of the economy and the associated lower energy consumption meant that around 36 percent of the year was left on Earth Overshoot Day on August 22 – the day was last so late in 2005. The last time supply and demand were reasonably in line was in the early 1970s. The Western industrialized nations are to blame, like another one extra– Graphic shows. If everyone lived like in the USA, we would need five Earths. For the German lifestyle, it would take three earths extrapolated.

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