Overshoot day 2016


Since 1986, the NGO Global Footprint Network attempts to calculate annually the day from which the consumption of the Man exceeds what the planet can produce and absorb in one year. This year, this day fell on Monday, August 8th, 132 days earlier than 45 years ago. Every year, this day arises earlier and the conclusions are more and more alarming, but on what really rests this calculation and are there solutions to remedy this phenomenon?

The principle

Global Footprint Network bases its calculation on the comparison between the offer of the nature or “the biocapacity”, it means that a zone can produce and absorb as waste, and the pressure exercised by the Man on the nature or “ecological footprint”, more precisely the Man needs to consume and what he rejects as waste on the scale of a country, of a region or still a city.

Calculation: (Biocapacity/Ecological footprint) × 365 days = the overshoot day

The current result is 221, meaning that the 221th day of the year symbolize the day of the overshoot. This figure remains symbolic but the balance sheet is blatant: we over-exploit the planet which is not anymore in the capacity to regenerate. Yet, natural resources are essential to our survival.


A controversial indicator

This calculation is very criticized by numerous scientists and journalists. Most fervent opponent is Léo Hickman, the head of WWF in the United Kingdom. In his article published in the Guardian, he declares :

How can you stick together facts concerning, for example, greenhouse gases, the destruction of rain forests and the efficiency of the corn, to arrive at a single figure. 

He criticizes in particular the notion « global hectare » which rests on thousands of data stemming from various organizations (UNO, International Energy Agency, the department of the statistics of United Nations and the intergovernmental Group of experts on the evolution of the climate).

The notion of ecological footprint is also questioned by the scientists, who consider that it is impossible to calculate because of the multiplicity of the methods of calculations and factors which can be taken into account. For some, it seems whether it is mainly the CO2 emissions which are responsible for the overtaking and not the employment of the resources to feed us.

That is why Michael Shellenberger, Breakthrought Institute proposes:

Let us drop the ecological footprint and let us begin to measure directly our carbon footprint. And let us use more significant measures to verify if our exploitation of lands, forests, seas, is made in a sustainable way.

Irreversible phenomenon

Although debated, this day of the overtaking wants above all marking the spirits in a context of intensive overconsumption and pollution. We possess that a single earth and our survival is at stake. No matter factors and possibilities of diverse calculations, it is demonstrated that the current human activity draws from the sources of our planet. It ’s more than ever essential to take significant and sustainable measures to assure the natural resources of the planet and reduce CO2 emissions.


Source overshoot day

Numerous countries already multiply the efforts in the environmental field, in particular in the electricity production from the renewable energies. But from now on, the hope rests above all on the met of commitments taken by the international community during the COP 21 in December, 2015. Otherwise, the ” day of the overtaking ” could arise from June in 2030.

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