Earth Goes into Ecological Deficit Earlier than Ever

01 Aug 2017

In what marks the earliest Earth Overshoot Day yet, humanity will have already used up more resources by Aug. 2 than the Earth can regenerate this year, according to the Global Footprint Network. 

The network, a WWF partner, declared Aug. 2 as 2017’s Earth Overshoot Day – six days earlier than last year. It would take 1.7 Earths to sustain global consumption at this level, slightly higher than last year’s 1.6 Earths. 

As the global population grows and consumption rises: 

• More carbon is emitted into the atmosphere than can be absorbed by oceans and forests. 

• Fisheries are depleted faster than they can reproduce. 

• Forests are harvested faster than they can regrow. 

The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, drought, freshwater scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Vertebrate wildlife populations are suffering precipitous global population declines. If we don’t dramatically change the way we live, we are headed toward a 67 per cent decline by 2020, according to the latest Living Planet Report. 

Tracking individual ecological footprint 

Canadians can determine their individual Earth Overshoot Day with the footprint calculator. 

How does Canada rank? 

• Canada’s ecological footprint increased in the past year: If everyone on Earth lived as Canadians do, it would take 5.1 Earths to sustain global consumption – an increase from last year’s 4.7 Earths. 

• Per person, Canada has the fifth highest ecological footprint in the world 

• Because Canada has a relatively small population and a bounty of natural resources, it takes only half of Canada’s resources to sustain our population. 

• Unlike countries with ecological deficits, Canada has an ecological reserve. 

• As a nation, Canada has the 12th highest total ecological footprint. 

• Carbon makes up 60 per cent of Canada’s overall ecological footprint. 

David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada, says: 

“Canada is going in the wrong direction. We know we need to drive down our impact on nature, but Canadians are living even further beyond global ecological means than ever before. That’s not sustainable. As a nation, we need to better plan for resilient ecosystems that sustain our economy while delivering vital ecological goods and services to wildlife and people.” 

Further resources 

• See attached graphics 

• Earth Overshoot Day website 

• Maps and rankings 

• Free public data package 

About Global Footprint Network 

Global Footprint Network is changing how the world manages its natural resources, through 

• METRICS that are simple, meaningful, and scalable; 

• ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS about natural resource consumption and capacity; and 

• TOOLS and analysis to guide informed decisions. 

About World Wildlife Fund Canada 

WWF-Canada |