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Decryption: the day of the overshoot

July 28, 2022 is the day on which Humanity has exceeded the resources that the Earth can regenerate in a year. While the majority of us are aware of the climate emergency, do we really understand what it is, unless we have written a thesis on the subject? This is precisely what Earth Overshoot Day is for, reflecting the excesses of our consumption of natural resources.
Turbulence by woody Gooch

Understand the concept of Overshoot Day

Determined by the non-profit organization Global Footprint Network, the overshoot day represents a threshold after which the resources that the Earth can produce in a year are exhausted. In other words, from this date which keeps advancing, we live on credit until December 31, 2022. This index made accessible to the general public makes the climate emergency undeniable. Overshoot day marks both the impact of our individual lifestyles and the functioning of each country at the global level. Nothing more concrete to recall the limits of our planet.

Rural China by Daniel Kordan

How is the overshoot day calculated?

To arrive at the necessary quantity of planets, we divide the number of hectares of biocapacity of the planet by the ecological footprint (in hectares) of Humanity. This figure is then multiplied by the number of days in a year. This is indeed a global average, because some countries draw more on the planet's resources than others. For example, a specific overshoot day in the United States corresponded to March 31 and for France to 5th of May This year.

Earth's biocapacity calculation works in terms of area, the one we need to support ourselves. This includes:

  • cultivated land,
  • pastures,
  • the forests to meet our needs,
  • forests to absorb carbon from fossil fuels),
  • aquatic areas
  • built surfaces.

note that the carbon footprint constitutes 60% of the overall ecological footprint. Just look at the figures that correspond to the year of the health crisis to realize that the depletion of our planetary resources has slowed down in 2020. We can assume that stopping a number of industries, air and maritime traffic had something to do with it.

A symbolic date that reflects our ecological footprint

Earth Overshoot Day has become a powerful communication tool, because it is more impactful with the general public. It is only since 2006 that the Global Footprint Network communicates on this deadline calculated from our ecological footprint. Previously, the organization reasoned in number of planets necessary for human activity, a less evocative image of nature in danger. In fact, it could suggest that our natural resources could also come from elsewhere (hello the conquest of space). Determining an annual date from which human beings consume beyond their means emphasizes the notion of planetary boundaries.

Low Tide Fishing by Daniel Kordan

Overshoot day is not enough

A general average for the whole Earth, the day of the overshoot marks the spirits, as does a photo of nature victim of the presence of Man. But much remains to be done. Because the climate is a difficult phenomenon to measure and the short answer is that "yes, we are in overconsumption", but when we look for solutions, we see that It's not that simple and it's all connected... For example, biocapacity does not take into account the rate of biodiversity loss.

What issues should be tackled to reverse the trend?

According to WWF, the major cause of our excessive consumption of resources is an unsustainable agri-food system. Food monopolizes 55% of the biocapacity of the planet. If we want to reduce consumption the sum of global greenhouse gas emissions, then it is this system that must be repaired as a priority. Some solutions include:

All issues for which anyone can take action on a daily basis, by shopping or signing an online petition.


Then, it will be a question of favoring and developing the use of renewable energy sources, as Antoine Rose did for the studio Art Factory which prints X-Plorar photographs. It is obvious that alone we cannot reverse the trend. On the other hand, a solution is possible in the sum of individual and collective actions, without forgetting the enormous political stake which is to push governments to make the climate emergency a priority in the governance of territories.

If the day of the overshoot reminds us that the resources of our planet are not infinite, it is part of a set of information and barometers that measure the state of the climate emergency. Calculating your personal carbon footprint can already give you a clue on how you can start reducing your ecological impact and preserve these environments that allow us to take a beautiful nature photo or an inspiring forest image.

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