He added: "The Earth has a lot of stock, so we can deplete Earth for some time but we cannot overuse it for ever. It's like with money; we can spend more than we earn for some time until we're broke."

It would take 1.75 Earths to provide for the world's population in a sustainable way, according to the measure, which was created by researchers in the early 1990s.

Global Footprint Network said Earth Overshoot Day has fallen ever sooner over the last 50 years.

Uneven burden

In 2020, the date moved back three weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, before returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The burden is not evenly spread. If everyone lived like an American, the date would have fallen even earlier, on 13 March, Wackernagel said.

The two NGOs point the finger at the food production system and its "considerable" ecological footprint.

"In total, more than half of the planet's biocapacity (55 per cent) is used to feed humanity," the two NGOs said.

"A large part of the food and raw materials are used to feed animals and animals that are consumed afterwards", said Pierre Cannet of WWF France.

In the EU, "63 per cent of arable land... is directly associated with animal production", he said.

"Agriculture contributes to deforestation, climate change by emitting greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, while using a significant share of fresh water," the NGOs said.

Based on scientific advice, they advocate reducing meat consumption in rich countries.

"If we could cut meat consumption by half, we could move the date of the overshoot by 17 days," said Laetitia Mailhes of the Global Footprint Network.

"Limiting food waste would push the date back by 13 days, that's not insignificant," she added, while one-third of the world's food is wasted.

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