Global Ecological Overshoot

What is Global Ecological Overshoot?

Ecological overshoot is measured using ecological footprint analysis, which assesses humanity’s total demand on nature’s services over a one-year period compared to the capability of biologically productive land and sea areas to meet that demand.

Scientists are suggesting that we have entered the era of the Anthropocene; an era in which humanity is the greatest force shaping earth’s terrestrial systems.

  • 50% of net primary production is in service of the human population
  • 80% of ecosystems are influenced by humans

Global society today is demanding more in a year through consumption of energy and resources than nature can provide, and polluting more than nature can assimilate.

nature resources
Graph from Global Footprint Network


The root causes of global ecological overshoot and climate change is individual and collective consumption choices and habits.

Cities account for only 3% of global land use, but they are responsible for the majority of global resource consumption. It is not the cities that are the problem, but the energy and resource intensity of our urban lifestyles that require vast land areas outside of the city to support it.

The discrepancy between the small amount of land occupied by cities and the vast amount of land required to resource urban lifestyles is at the heart of the urban sustainability challenge.

causes of overshoot