Earth Overshoot Day – 29 July 2019

29 July 2019 has been calculated by Global Footprint Network as “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

It’s worse for many countries, including New Zealand – they say that we used a year’s worth of resources on 9 May, well under half a year.

figure showing country overshoot days

While the trend has been flattening out over the last decade it has worsened substantially over the last four decades.

The calculation:

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:

(Planet’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Global Ecological Footprint and biocapacity metrics are calculated each year in the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. Using UN statistics, these accounts incorporate the latest data and the most updated accounting methodology (the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2019 Edition feature 2016 data.) To estimate this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are “nowcasted” to the current year using the latest data from additional sources, such as the Global Carbon Project.

While the actual dates could be quibbled about, I think that a valid and important point is being made – the human population and the way we live exceeds what our planet can cope with, by quite a margin. If this excess continues then Earth will suffer badly (more badly) – which means people and all creatures and plants will suffer. We may be able too carry on despite the damage we are contributing to, but bodes badly for our children and grandchildren.

It’s easy to dismiss this as not our problem, to say that it’s someone else’s problem, but that’s a part of the problem.

It won’t be quick or easy to turn things around, but there is growing attention being paid to at least making things less bd.,

Solutions to #MoveTheDate

From there, one suggestion from Gene Geveridge who is from the north of New Zealand:

Anecdotally there is interest in creating or joining a shared garden for the purpose of food production, food security, food education, and if possible ecological regeneration. Achieving some economy of scale, fostering community relationships and reducing food transport would be more general goals. Success depends on a few people with the right knowledge and experience and a wider group for man-power and to learn the ropes in time.

A setup similar to this could work:

That would have environmental as well as community benefits – but it’s remarkable that the right knowledge and experience to help people to learn the ropes to grow their own produce in a garden is seen as necessary. The knowledge and the practice of home gardening seems to have deteriorated alarmingly over the last half century.

I have a home garden and orchard, but could and should do a lot more. This is a project I will be working on more – on it’s own it will just make a tiny difference, but we need a lot of tiny differences to make a real difference.



Leave a comment


  1. Pink David

     /  30th July 2019

    This is just a rehash of the Club of Rome and it’s nonsensical Limits to Growth. It was profoundly wrong, and the rehash is also profoundly wrong. The simple truth, population growth creates more resources.

    The Simon–Ehrlich wager has already show just how silly some of these predictions have been compared to the reality.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th July 2019

    Gardens are vastly less efficient than farms and a return to reliance on them would cause mass starvation. Like most environmental nonsense.

    • Supermarkets sell vege plants, so plenty of people are still growing something.

      I saw a flowerbed with silverbeet planted at intervals; very practical.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  30th July 2019

        There’s nothing wrong with having a garden so long as you don’t pretend it is solving the planet’s problems.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st July 2019

          I agree.

          It’s like using tote bags; I do, but don’t delude myself that I am making a difference to climate change. My totes will never break even (so to speak) because I couldn’t possibly use each of them enough times.

          Countdown is now making a great parade of its BYO containers. I read an account by someone who bought some, washed them in the dishwasher and took one in to put ham in. The staff member washed and rinsed it, picked the ham up in a plastic bag with her plastic gloved hand, put it into the wet container and…..threw the plastic bag into a bin.

          As it was contaminated by dead pig, it could only be recycled if it was cleaned and dried. which I bet it won’t be, and I bet that the gloves will go straight into landfill as well.

          • Duker

             /  31st July 2019

            What about the old days of paper. Butchers paper used to be a thing but the secret item they have forgotten about was waxed paper for the direct contact with the meat. That used to be a thing too..luncheon paper

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st July 2019

              That didn’t prevent leaks, can’t be easily recycled and can’t be recycled if it’s contaminated with blood. Nor can any bloodstained paper. One piece will ruin an entire batch.

              Greaseproof paper is plastic or silicone coated, so there’s no advantage,

              Plastic can be washed and recycled, but I bet that no one washes and dries bloodstained paper. UGHHHH.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st July 2019

              Waxed paper is coated with a petroleum product, so cannot be recycled. A small amount of waxed paper is soybean based, but most isn’t.

              So the waxed paper will go straight into landfill. I can’t see much advantage there except for virtue signalling.

              If I ate meat, which I don’t, I’d be taking a breadbag or something like that in.

            • In Countdown’s case, they are using and discarding plastic bags so that they won’t be using plastic bags that people will take away with them. At the same time they are selling the plastic containers that they fill by picking up the contents with the plastic bags that they throw out.

  3. Duker

     /  30th July 2019

    It’s a mystery why PG gets sucked in by this sort of nonsense. …14th century England wasn’t sustainable either, especially after the Black Death ….NZ Maori had the same problem after the moa were wiped out, kumara didn’t grow that well in most of the country and fern roots weren’t exactly the best means of feeding an iwi.

    • Pink David

       /  30th July 2019

      It’s the fixed pizza fallacy. The belief there is only x amount, and the key argument is about how you slice it up. Most of the time, this is a fallacy is promoted by those to seek to gain control of the slicing.

      What this misses is it’s complete nonsense. Humans are far more resourceful and adaptable than many would like.

      • Duker

         /  31st July 2019

        That’s right. You look at Asia and all those rice terraces…something created out of nothing because they had to , and you feed the village. Now instead they grow potatoes which have amazing yields and instead create iPhone cities to provide work.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th August 2019

    I trust the Greens are approving the jewel robbers who have converted to public transport. Fortunately the police haven’t:


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