The best scientific estimates tell us human civilization is in overshoot. Were you aware of this? Do you know what overshoot is? This year (2019), Earth Overshoot Day in 2020 falls on August 22.

Since 2003, scientists at Global Footprint Network have been analyzing UN data and satellite imagery to estimate the planet’s capacity to meet our needs (biocapacity), and humankind’s footprint – or demand (ecological footprint) – on that capacity. Their analysis suggests we have been in overshoot since about 1970.

Computer modeling by a team of MIT scientists in 1972 estimated the scale of human activity on the planet would cause systems to fail within a hundred years. Such failure is expected when humanity’s footprint on the planet consistently exceeds its carrying capacity.

Since 1972, study after study, and report after report, has warned we are in overshoot – the sum total of human activity is too much for the Earth’s ecosystems to bear. Welcome to Overshoot explores overshoot’s causes, effects, and possible solutions, as well as some of the barriers to solving the problem.


Reported by: Dave Gardner


William Catton, author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Brian Czech, author of Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution, and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

Herman Daly, author of Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development

Paul Ehrlich, Stanford Biologist, author of The Population Bomb

Kerryn Higgs, author of Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet

Ian Johnson, former World Bank vice president, former secretary general of Club of Rome

Bill McKibben, environmental journalist, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?co-founder of

Dennis Meadows, lead scientist, The Limits to Growth

Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist

William Rees, co-originator of ecological footprint analysis

Bill Ryerson, President of Population Media Center and Chair of Population Institute

Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at Boston University and author of True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans Are Creating a Time-Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy

John Seager, CEO of Population Connection

Gus Speth, former chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Co-Chair of the Next System Project

Mathis Wackernagel, founder of Global Footprint Network and co-author of Ecological Footprint: Managing Our Biocapacity Budget

Rex Weyler, environmental journalist


Earth Overshoot Day

The Limits to Growth

Ecological Footprint: Managing Our Biocapacity Budget by Mathis Wackernagel and Bert Beyers
(pre-order the book now, publication date is September 3, 2019)

Footprint Calculator

Move the Date
Solutions to accelerate the shift to one-planet living

For further exploration:

Overshoot Index (2016)

Past Earth Overshoot Days

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