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The World is Not Enough

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Katharina Buchholz

If the citizens of the world lived like those of the United States, the resources of five full planets would be needed to satisfy the global need for resources every year.

This data is highlighted annually by the NGO Global Footprint Network, which also publicizes the date on which all humans on Earth have collectively used up more natural resources than mother nature can reproduce in a year. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day happened later than usual last year - on August 22, 2020 - due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, it falls on July 29, the same day as in 2019. Before, it had moved forward gradually from August 18 in 2009.

Industrialized nations have the biggest share in pushing the date forward. Qatar, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates are actually even bigger offenders than the U.S. The lifestyle in these countries would use up between 5.5 and 9.1 Earths if the whole world lived it but because of the small size of their populations, they actually have less of an influence on global resource depletion than bigger developed countries like the U.S.

Other industrialized nations in Europe and Asia would use between four and 2.5 Earths if their lifestyle was universal. Chinese living standards meant 2.3 Earths would be used up. Indonesians, with a local Earth Overshoot Day on Dec 18, 2021, were about on track of using up exactly the resources allotted to Earth citizens.

People in several countries also used up less than their allotment of resources, for example in India, where the equivalent of 0.7 Earths were used in 2019.

Emissions, but also the use of resources like wood, fish and land for crops are among the things counted in when calculating Earth Overshoot Day.

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