Today marks 2018’s Earth Overshoot Day — and no, it’s not a holiday.
Earth Overshoot Day is the date on which the planet has used up all of its natural resources for the year, whether that be food or forests or fuel. In 2018, that day came sooner than ever before — on Aug. 1, just a day before 2017’s overshoot day.
A think tank called the Global Footprint Network calculates the planet’s overshoot day every year to show how humans are using up Earth’s resources faster than they can be replenished.
In 1970, things weren’t so bad at all — overshoot day landed on Dec. 29, just a few days shy of New Year’s Day. But the date crept up to early November by 1980, then October by 1990, then late September by 2000. Humans have been hovering in August since 2005, and yet they’ve still managed to move overshoot day up more than three weeks since then.
Individual countries also have overshoot days. Americans reached their national overshoot day on March 15, making it one of the biggest spenders of natural resources. Only three countries reached their national overshoot before the U.S. this year: the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg and Qatar.
It’s not a perfect barometer for how humans are abusing the planet, but it’s certainly an alarming one. Yet conversations about climate change and the need to live more sustainability are hardly new — so, once again, it’s up to each individual to reverse this trend by living with less of a footprint.