The Countries That Use the Most Resources

If you spent your whole paycheck two weeks before the next payday, you'd probably notice. But you may not have noticed that last month, all of humanity did just that. We used a year's worth of the planet's resources in just seven months. It's called Earth Overshoot Day, and this year it fell on Aug. 1.

In your monthly budget, you don't spend more than you make, and ideally have a few dollars left over each month. Each year since 1970, when this was first measured, humans have used more ecological resources than the planet can regenerate. We do this through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb. The Aug. 1 date means we are using 1.7 Earths. That's like spending 170% of your paycheck.

It is, by definition, not sustainable.

Different parts of the world are endowed with different resources and consume resources at different rates. Some countries use more resources, per person, than others. Some individuals use more than others. The amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources is their ecological footprint.

So in which countries are people using the most? How quickly are they spending their natural resource paycheck, so to speak?

Every one of the following countries spent their paycheck well before the first day of August. If the world's population lived like these countries, here is when world overshoot day would fall. According to the Global Footprint Network, these are the countries with the biggest ecological footprint.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Qatar
1. Qatar

1. Qatar

  • Overshoot day: Feb. 9
  • Ecological footprint per person: 15.3 global hectares (37.8 acres)

To live within the means of our planet's resources, each person on the planet would need only 4.2 acres of land to sustain them.

If a nation's ecological footprint is greater, its citizens are demanding more resources and wastes than the planet can regenerate and absorb in the atmosphere. In the case of Qatar, the country's ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity by 1,230%.

Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula, has a population of about 2.6 million, and is a little smaller than Connecticut.

Photo: Shutterstock

2. Luxembourg
2. Luxembourg

2. Luxembourg

  • Overshoot day: Feb. 19
  • Ecological footprint per person: 15.3 (37.8 acres)

Luxembourg's ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity by 793%. The European country, bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, is smaller than Rhode Island.

Photo: Shutterstock

3. United Arab Emirates
3. United Arab Emirates

3. United Arab Emirates

  • Overshoot day: March 4
  • Ecological footprint per person: 9.8 (24.2 acres)

The UAE's ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity by 1,650%.

Pictured is the Dubai Marina.

Photo: Shutterstock

4. United States
4. United States

4. United States

  • Overshoot day: March 15
  • Ecological footprint per person: 8.4 (20.8 acres)

The U.S.'s ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity by 133%.

Americans are using up their resource budget a full 9.5 months early. The footprint is calculated based on available resources (biocapacity) of a country, its population, and how much its people use. Biocapacity is the area of productive land available to produce resources or absorb carbon dioxide waste. The U.S., Brazil, and China are the three countries with the greatest biocapacity in the world, each with more than 1 billion global hectares of productive land. Countries such as Qatar, Luxembourg and the UAE have less than 10 million global hectares.

Unlike the U.S.'s 133% deficit, Brazil has a resources reserve of 188%.

Photo: Ravenash / Shutterstock

5. Canada
5. Canada

5. Canada

  • Overshoot day: March 18
  • Ecological footprint per person: 8 (19.8 acres)

Above, oil sands development in Northern Alberta, Canada.

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Kuwait
6. Kuwait

6. Kuwait

  • Overshoot day: March 22
  • Ecological footprint per person: 7.6 (18.8 acres)

Pictured is The Avenues Mall in Kuwait.

Photo: Philip Lange / Shutterstock

7. Denmark
7. Denmark

7. Denmark

  • Overshoot day: March 28
  • Ecological footprint per person: 7.1 (17.5 acres)

Photo: Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

8. Australia
8. Australia

8. Australia

  • Overshoot day: March 31
  • Ecological footprint per person: 6.9 (17.1 acres)

Photo: Shutterstock

9. Sweden
9. Sweden

9. Sweden

  • Overshoot day: April 4
  • Ecological footprint per person: 6.6 (16.3 acres)

Photo: Shutterstock

10. Finland
10. Finland

10. Finland

  • Overshoot day: April 11
  • Ecological footprint per person: 6.2 (15.3 acres)

Above, Helsinki, Finland.

Photo: Karavanov_Lev / Shutterstock

11. Singapore
11. Singapore

11. Singapore

  • Overshoot day: April 15 (tie)
  • Ecological footprint per person: 5.9 (14.6 acres)

Above, Singapore's financial district.

Photo: Shutterstock

12. Austria
12. Austria

12. Austria

  • Overshoot day: April 15 (tie)
  • Ecological footprint per person: 5.9 (14.6 acres)

Pictured is Hallstatt, Austria, a mountain village in the Austrian Alps.

Photo: Shutterstock

13. South Korea
13. South Korea

13. South Korea

  • Overshoot day: April 16
  • Ecological footprint per person: 5.8 (14.3 acres)

Above, the Myeongdong shopping district, Seoul.

Photo: AsiaTravel / Shutterstock

14. Russian Federation
14. Russian Federation

14. Russian Federation

  • Overshoot day: April 21
  • Ecological footprint per person: 5.6 (13.8 acres)

Above, the Winter Palace building on Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Photo: Shutterstock

15. Germany
15. Germany

15. Germany

  • Overshoot day: May 2
  • Ecological footprint per person: 5.0 (12.4 acres)

Pictured is Hamburg, Germany.

Photo: Shutterstock

16. France
16. France

16. France

  • Overshoot day: May 5
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.7 (11.6 acres)

Bikers race in the 2016 Tour de France in Paris.

Photo: Frederic Legrand-COMEO / Shutterstock

17. Switzerland
17. Switzerland

17. Switzerland

  • Overshoot day: May 7
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.9 (12.1 acres)

Above, Lauterbrunnen, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.

Photo: Shutterstock

18. United Kingdom
18. United Kingdom

18. United Kingdom

  • Overshoot day: May 8
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.8 (11.9 acres)

Photo: Shutterstock

19. Japan
19. Japan

19. Japan

  • Overshoot day: May 10
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.7 (11.6 acres)

Above, Tokyo.

Photo: Shutterstock

20. Israel
20. Israel

20. Israel

  • Overshoot day: May 12
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.7 (11.6 acres)

Pictured is Eilat, a resort city in Israel.

Photo: Shutterstock

21. Malaysia
21. Malaysia

21. Malaysia

  • Overshoot day: May 19
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.4 (10.9 acres)

Above, the Batu Caves statue and entrance near Kuala Lumpur.

Photo: Shutterstock

22. Greece
22. Greece

22. Greece

  • Overshoot day: May 23
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.3 (10.6 acres)

Above, a fish market in Athens.

Photo: Baloncici / Shutterstock

23. Italy
23. Italy

23. Italy

  • Overshoot day: May 24
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.3 (10.6 acres)

Photo: Alexander Mazurkevich / Shutterstock

24. Chile
24. Chile

24. Chile

  • Overshoot day: June 2
  • Ecological footprint per person: 4.0 (9.9 acres)

Above, Santiago de Chile.

Photo: Shutterstock

25. Fiji
25. Fiji

25. Fiji

  • Overshoot day: June 7
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.9 (9.6 acres)

Photo: Shutterstock

26. Spain
26. Spain

26. Spain

  • Overshoot day: June 11
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.8 (9.4 acres)

Above, the Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain.

Photo: Anibal Trejo / Shutterstock

27. China
27. China

27. China

  • Overshoot day: June 15
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.7 (9.1 acres)

Photo: Shutterstock

28. Argentina
28. Argentina

28. Argentina

  • Overshoot day: June 16 (tie)
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.7 (9.1 acres)

Above, Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego province in Argentina, and one of the southernmost cities in the world.

Photo: Shutterstock

29. Portugal
29. Portugal

29. Portugal

  • Overshoot day: June 16 (tie)
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.7 (9.1 acres)

Pictured is a market in Funchal, Portugal.

Photo: Shutterstock

30. Hungary
30. Hungary

30. Hungary

  • Overshoot day: June 20
  • Ecological footprint per person: 3.5 (8.6 acres)

To learn more, visit the Global Footprint Network. Explore the data, and see how these numbers are calculated. You can calculate your personal footprint and personal overshoot day using their calculator.

Photo: Shutterstock

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