The Earth is exhausted!

Nature and Environment

Living large

Each year, the Global Footprint Network — an international think tank with more than 90 partner organizations — calculates the so-called Earth Overshoot Day. This marks the date when we have used as much from nature as our planet can renew over the whole year. Think of it as a bank account with a certain budget for the year. Starting on August 1, 2018, humanity is in the red.

Nature and Environment

Who needs how much?

Today, all of humanity consumes resources equivalent to 1.7 planet Earths. Needless to say, there are big regional differences: If all of mankind lived and did business like Germans, we would need more than 3 planets; the American way of life would require 4.9 planets.

Nature and Environment

Dirty work

Burning fossil fuels and wood makes up 60 percent of our ecological footprint. In absolute terms, China, the United States, the European Union and India are the world's largest CO2 emitters. Per capita consumption, however, puts those figures into perspective.

Nature and Environment

Forests under pressure

Trees provide timber, an invaluable raw material for items such as paper. But they also prevent soil erosion, help replenish the groundwater and are indispensable in climatic cycles, including as CO2 reservoirs. In Germany for example, forested area binds a mere 15 percent of the country's annual CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, 3.3 million hectares of forest are lost worldwide each year.

Nature and Environment

Enough to go around?

Humanity is growing. New crop areas are sprouting up everywhere — and at the same time, the world is losing farmland to urban development, soil erosion and soil degradation. At the moment, each EU citizen uses an average of 0.31 hectares of farmland for the food they consume. But if resources were distributed equitably worldwide, everyone would be entitled to only 0.2 hectares.

Nature and Environment

Overfished oceans

As we catch ever more fish, stocks are not able to recover adequately. By now, almost a third of the world's fish stocks are considered overfished, and far more than half exploited to their maximum. CO2 emissions are also acidifying the oceans, resulting in ever more difficult living conditions for marine creatures.

Nature and Environment

Water scarcity

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that almost half of the world's population will suffer from water shortages by 2030. Groundwater reserves are becoming increasingly scarce, and are often contaminated. The level of pollution in from farming and household waste in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water is in some places so high that this water is not even suitable for animals.

Nature and Environment

Self-sufficiency on 1.8 hectares

In mathematical terms, every human would have 1.8 hectares at his or her disposal in order to satisfy basic survival needs in an ecologically sustainable fashion. But the average German, for example, consumes the equivalent of 5.1 hectares. In 2018, Germany already exhausted its bio-capacity on May 2 — and has since been living at the expense of other countries or future generations.

Globally speaking, by today — August 1 — we have used up all our natural resources for the entire year of 2018, according to the Global Footprint Network.