Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

Ecological Footprint – Importance and Implications

Each one of us owes its sustenance to the Earth. In the last 100 years, the population levels have escalated to an extent that states, governments and environmentalists are concerned about the impact this has had on the Earth. The moot question here stands – is our dependence on Earth’s resources killing our planet? This has led to the emergence of various concepts, one of them being ecological footprint.

What is an Ecological Footprint?

The ecological footprint is a comprehensive tool developed to measure the bioproductive area (land and sea) needed to grow all those resources human consumers need for sustenance and also reveal the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the bioproductive areas.

Once this is measured, a study is undertaken to find out whether such bioproductive areas are available for specific human population or not. The ecological footprint comprises of various elements like food footprint, carbon footprint, housing footprint and others.

As per the article on Livestrong, Facing the Future organization says that our ecological footprint is composed of several different components. It includes the number of trees needed to provide for your oxygen use; the land and animal resources needed to provide your food; the water that you use for drinking, washing and other activities; the timber and fiber needed to make your furniture, clothes and other goods; the energy you use in the form of gas, electricity and other energy sources; the highways, hospitals, water systems and other constructions that make up your infrastructure; the garbage you produce; and the land you use for recreation.

Is it Different from Carbon Footprint?

Carbon footprint is one of the elements of ecological footprint. Carbon footprint also deals with resource analysis but is primarily focused on greenhouse gas emission and finding solutions to global warming.

Nonetheless, both the concepts are about understanding the impact of human activities on the natural environment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ecological Footprint

One of the main advantages of ecological footprint is the qualitative research undertaken to highlight worst affected geographical areas and the preparation of actionable plans to deal with them. The footprint provides accurate figures so there is no option for under doing or overdoing improvements. Correct redressal plans and timely implementation will lead to effective utilization of remaining resources and reduce ecological footprint. The ecological footprint analysis helps to gain a standardized indicator and create solutions around it.

However, on the other hand, it does have its disadvantage too. It is not feasible to calculate ecological damage on a larger scale as it leads to wrong analysis. In other words, a country with high population will be seen as consuming higher resources which could be over estimation. Moreover, ecological footprint does not consider imports and exports.

Secondly, it is not necessary that damage to the environment is caused only due to resource consumption. Other factors like carbon emission are there too. Take the examples of China and Hong Kong. The ecological footprint of China is low because even though their contribution to carbon emission is very high. However, internationally, the ecological footprint of Hong Kong is marginal even though they have high population level but their consumption of natural resources is standard. They have different schemes helping to curb overuse of sustainable resources.

To conclude, ecological footprint is an important environmental indicator. Every country should analyze their resource usage and take measures to prevent over-utilization and invest their efforts solving global warming issues. Lastly, the application of this theory is more suitable globally than locally, as demonstrated in the disadvantage section examples.

Resource Box

GP Manalac is an eco- conscious entrepreneur working on bringing green and carbon solutions beyond the niche green audience.  He manages JustGreen, an innovative green lifestyle carbon company that so far has offset over 2 billion pounds of emissions through its various retail energy and carbon offset products.  His passion for reduction of carbon emissions arose from his career long involvement in the carbon intensive energy business.

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