Overshoot 365: Comparing nations on natural resource consumption

While Earth Overshoot Day 2023 fell on 2nd August, the actual date at which humans exhaust the regenerative capacity of global ecosystems isn’t so easy to ascertain. Here’s why.

a barren field with a few trees in the distance

Global Footprint Network, the organisation tasked with measuring and gauging when Overshoot Day is, makes no secret of the date’s complexities. As we have reported elsewhere, scientific progress alone means two different years cannot be compared ‘apples-for-apples’. 

Now the organisation has teamed up with data visualisation and storytelling agency infogr8 in a bid to delve deeper into national consumption levels. Rather than looking at Earth Overshoot as a whole, then, we can now see information country-by-country, revealing which nations the rest should aspire to in terms of limiting use, abuse and waste of natural resources. 

Qatar and Luxembourg, for example, would exhaust all their resources by mid-February this year, while Indonesia, Ecuador, and Jamaica could last out until December. For the UK, the date would fall sometime around the middle of May. Looking to close neighbours, Denmark and Finland would be lucky to make it to Easter (respectively 28th and 31st March), with Sweden and Norway following shortly behind (3rd and 12th April). 

Looking at the results overall, clear patterns are evident. No high income nation, with the exception of Equatorial Guinea, would have an Earth Overshoot Day after late-May. All low and middle income nations, except Mongolia, Bhutan and Turkmenistan, have theirs in the last seven months of the year. While many – such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda – would not overshoot at all. 

‘As well as comparing overshoot results geographically, we wanted to create visuals for 2023 that help people focus on the solutions that Global Footprint Network are proposing,’ said Stewart Pickering, of infogr8. ‘We worked with GFN to introduce a new animated infographic to represent The Power of Possibility, enabling organisations and consumers to explore new ways they can make a difference quickly and what the social impact might look like in five key areas – healthy planet, cities, energy, food, and population. 


‘For example, if all individuals shifted towards a plant-based diet by consuming 50% less meat, it would move the global overshoot date back by 7 days. Transforming carbon tax proposals would gain us two whole months. These new visuals help us see more clearly than ever and that role is vital,’ he continued. ‘One of the biggest challenges we face in changing behaviour around sustaining our environment is getting people to understand how they, as individuals, families or company leaders and employees, fit into the wider ecological picture.’



More on overshoot:

WATCH: Earth Overshoot Day 2023 and Ecological Balance Sheets explained

80% of Britons wasting water each day

First-of-its-kind study reveals UK population over consuming materials

Image: Fiona Smallwood

Graphics: infogr8 / Global Footprint Network


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