Between January 1 and August 1, humanity had consumed a year's worth of natural resources – making 2018 the earliest 'Earth Overshoot Day' since records began 50 years ago.
'Earth Overshoot Day' marks the date on which human consumption of Earth's resources exceeds what the planet can naturally replenish within one year. The Global Footprint Network started measuring the use of world resources this way in the 1970s.
In 2018, Earth's 7.6 billion humans will consume 1.7 times more from nature than our planet can regenerate. According to the organization, that's "akin to using 1.7 Earths."
"Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet," said Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel. "We are using the Earth's future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper into ecological debt.
"It's time to end this ecological Ponzi scheme and leverage our creativity and ingenuity to create a prosperous future free of fossil fuels and planetary destruction."
The Global Footprint Network measures humanity's demand for food, timber and fibers (cotton); absorption of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels; and buildings, roads and other infrastructure.
But not everyone on Earth consumes the same. The '1.7 Earths' figure is an average of resource consumption across the planet.
For example, if everyone in the world lived like a U.S. citizen, we would need five Earths to continue our lifestyle. If everyone were Australian, 4.1 Earths would be needed.
A South Korean global society would need 3.5. However, if everyone lived like the average person in India, we would stay at 0.7, a sustainable rate.
The organization identified four opportunities that would significantly help reduce our footprint: cities, energy, food and population.
Cutting driving by half and replacing one third of car miles with public transport and the rest by walking and cycling, humanity would move the overshoot date back 12 days.
If we cut our food waste in half, improved our efficiency in food production and consumed world-average calories, we would move the overshoot date back 38 days.
One thing that can be easily done is reduce the consumption of animal calories. According to the report, it takes 14 times as much land to produce a ton of beef as it takes to produce a ton of grain. In total, livestock is responsible for 9 percent of human-related carbon emissions.
We keep growing in numbers and it's a controversial thing to tell families not to have children, but the report says that if every other family had one less child, the date would move back 30 days by 2050.
But energy use is by far the main culprit: carbon use amounts to 60 percent of it, and barely 150 years ago this was non-existent. If we cut our use of carbon by 50 percent, we would move the date back 93 days. That's 1.2 Earths instead of 1.7.
The Global Footprint Network planned a set of activities around the world to raise awareness regarding our lifestyles and their relation to the environmental crisis.
"As we mark Earth Overshoot Day, today may seem no different from yesterday — you still have the same food in your refrigerator," said Wackernagel.
"But fires are raging in the Western United States. On the other side of the world, residents in Cape Town have had to slash water consumption in half since 2015. These are consequences of busting the ecological budget of our one and only planet."