Ecological Footprints

Ecological Footprints



an ecological footprint is the area of land and water required to sustainably provide all resources at the rate of which they are being consumed by a given population so what exactly does that mean well let's first look at a slightly overly simplified example imagine we've got this small family of four and they live on corn Mayor's tomatoes and fish they've got an area of land that they own and they grow all of their food on that they don't take anything from outside of that area since we've got four people there let's say that they're require naught 0.25 square kilometres per person to survive now could we say that their ecological footprint is 0.25 square kilometers per person well no this is drastically oversimplified because the food that is produced is not the only thing that is required so what exactly is required by an by an ecological footprint well first of all we've got cropland that's the one we've mentioned that's the area of land for growing food for humans and animals next what about forest land for example for timber products so now there are lots of products that are produced by forests but let's think about timber as an example do they have a house that's made of wood do they have furniture made of wood do they all shelving in their house that's made of wood any wood products would need to be taken into account what about buildable and for example their house how much area does that take up the factories that produce the products that they use they have a certain stake in that land area what roads are they use that part of that makes up their ecological footprint next what about carbon so the land that's required to sequester which kind of means absorb the carbon that they release for example if they burn fossil fuels they are releasing carbon dioxide of the atmosphere and it requires plants to take that back in so what area of land of plants is required to do that next will be grazing land and that's the land for the animals for the products that they use so animals that they eat as as dairy eggs that are produced leather for their shoes this kind of thing and then lastly what about fishing ground and we can't exactly measure that as an area of land because fish are so mobile and spread over a large area and the use idea as a primary primary production to calculate this but essentially fishing ground must be taken into account with an ecological footprint it's always measured in an area per person and a common and convenient way to do this is global hectares per person there are a lot of variations in the ecological footprint it can vary by country because in different nations there are different amounts of electricity use there are different eating habits and transport methods all sorts of different things that influence the average ecological footprint of a person in a country it can also vary per person you are not going to have exactly the same ecological footprint as your best friend for example vegetarianism has a big influence because then that changes the amount of area required for the animals that you would consume there a use of renewable energy do you have solar panels on your house how do you get to school or to work if you use a car or do you use a bike that this would influence your ecological footprint according to the global footprint Network the bio capacity of Earth is 1.73 global hectares per person basically that's how large an ecological footprint every person on earth can sustainably have the actual ecological footprint that each person takes is more like 2.8 4 so this begs the question are we beyond our carrying capacity can we continue on like this are we living unsustainably and yes these numbers do suggest that we are taking more than the earth can possibly give but let's try and provide a slightly balanced argument about that let's think what a techno centrist might think about that is it possible that as we've got more people on earth we are going to come up with more technology and more methods to grow things in smaller areas which would mean the bio capacity and our ecological footprints would actually change exam help how might you get assessed on this nice simple question outline the concept an ecological footprint well first off give the definition there's often a mark available for that in this case that's quite detailed and it's possible there might be two marks available for given that full definition the next thing the ecological footprint includes the populations waste disposal requirements that's not expressly stated in the definition and so there might be an extra point available for that another one it can be measured on a variety of scales like we've already said we could measure an individual persons ecological footprint or we could mention a nation's ecological footprint and last it represents a sustainability or a lack of sustainability depending on the size of an ecological footprint

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