The UK just passed its Earth Overshoot Day… What does that mean?

By Melissa Watt |

Earth Overshoot Day is an estimate, not an exact date | Global Footprint Network National Footprint Accounts 2018

The 8th of May marks the UK’s Earth Overshoot Day but it’s no cause for celebration. We are now in an ecological deficit.

Earth Overshoot Day describes the calendar date where a country’s resource consumption exceeds the earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources in an entire year. The concept was originally developed by Andrew Simms, a Fellow at the UK think tank New Economics Foundation.

The United Kingdom’s Overshoot Day is the 17th earliest date in the calendar year…

The global Overshoot Day usually falls around the start of August, but it is getting earlier each year. As population growth and humanity’s demand for more resources subsequently sours, humanity is using up the world’s resources at a rate 1.7 times faster than the earth is able to renew them. This serves as another terrifying reminder of our worsening environmental crisis.

The United Kingdom’s Overshoot Day is the 17th earliest date in the calendar year, alongside other rich countries with a heavy carbon footprint. Qatar was the first to pass its national overshoot on February 9th this year.

Last month, Greta Thunberg commemorated Sweden’s Overshoot Day with a powerful message: “Sweden for the rest of 2019 is living outside the planetary boundaries and is stealing (because you don’t “borrow” something you can’t return) the carbon budgets from future generations and people in developing countries.”

Greta Thunberg has risen to international prominence for her unashamed approach to tackling the climate crisis | Wikimedia Commons

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by the international non-profit organisation Global Footprint Network. They divide the global biocapacity by the global ecological footprint and multiply this figure by 365, the number of days in a single year.

The Global Footprint Network are also the founders of the campaign #movethedate which encourages consumers to confront their wasteful lifestyle habits. On their website, you can calculate your personal Earth Overshoot Day and access a number of guides for reducing our carbon footprints at a local level. This includes favouring public transport, creating a sustainable capsule wardrobe and eating more plant-based meals.