Our Ecological Footprint

Report
Our Ecological Footprint
IB Geography
What is an Ecological Footprint?
 The ecological footprint is a measure of
human demand on the Earths ecosystems.
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It compares human demand with planet
Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate.
What does it represent?
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The calculation takes into account:
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Arable land: the amount of land required for growing
crops
Pasture land: resources required for growing animals
for meat, hides, milk, etc.
Forests: for fuel, furniture and buildings
Oceans: for fish and other marine products
Infrastructure: transportation, factories and housing
Energy costs: land required for absorbing carbon
dioxide and other energy wastes.
Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate
how much of the Earth (or how many planet
Earths) it would take to support humanity if
everybody lived a given lifestyle.
So where are we at now?
•
For 2008, humanity's total ecological
footprint was estimated at 1.8 planet Earths –
in other words, humanity uses ecological
services 1.8 times as fast as Earth can renew
them.
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Every year, this number is recalculated — with a
three year lag due to the time it takes for the UN
to collect and publish all the underlying
statistics.
Ecological Footprint Calculator
 Calculate your own ecological footprint by
going to: http://www.myfootprint.org/
 Print your results page.
 Then on a separate sheet of paper answer
the following questions:
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Where category was responsible for the
majority of your ecological footprint?
What actions can you take to reduce your
ecological footprint?
Biocapacity
 The capacity of an area or ecosystem to generate an
ongoing supply of resources and to absorb its
wastes
Overshoot
 Overshoot occurs when humanity’s demand
on nature exceeds the biosphere’s supply, or
regenerative capacity.
 We have been in ecological overshoot since
the mid 1980s
Ecological Footprints do not:
 Attempt to predict the future
 Indicate intensity with which a biologically
productive area is being used
 Evaluate the social and economic dimensions
of sustainability
 Instead, ecological footprints provide
snapshots of past resource demand and
availability
Top 10 Countries by Ecological
Footprint
Highest
Footprints
gha/pers
Country
Lowest
Footprints
gha/pers
Country
15.99
UAE
0.6
Bangladesh
12.22
USA
0.66
Namibia
10.31
Kuwait
0.73
Sierra Leone
9.88
Denmark
0.75
Burundi
9.54
New Zealand
0.75
Chad
9.43
Ireland
0.76
Mozambique
8.49
Australia
0.78
Haiti
8.45
Finland
0.79
Bhutan
7.66
Canada
0.80
Guinea-Bissau
7.53
Sweden
0.82
Togo
How do we measure our Ecological
Footprint?
 Your ecological footprint is expressed in "global
hectares" (gha) or "global acres" (ga), which
are standardized units that take into account the
differences in biological productivity of various
ecosystems impacted by your consumption
activities.
 Your footprint is broken down into four
consumption categories: carbon (home energy
use and transportation), food, housing, and
goods and services
Carbon Footprint
 The carbon
footprint is the
amount of land
and ocean
area required
to absorb the
carbon
emissions
associated
with a visitor’s
home energy
use and
transportation.
How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
 Reduce your carbon footprint by:
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Walk, bike, or take public transit whenever possible.
Avoid allowing your car to idle. If you'll be waiting for
more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine (except in
traffic
Install compact fluorescent bulbs in all your home light
fixtures
Keep thermostat relatively low in winter and ease up
on the air conditioning in summer. Clean or replace
dirty air conditioner filters as recommended to keep the
A/C operating at peak efficiency.
Dry your clothes outside whenever possible.
Defrost your refrigerator and freezer regularly.
Choose energy efficient appliances
Food Footprint
 The food footprint is the
amount of cropland,
pastureland, and marine
fisheries supporting
annual food
consumption plus the
land and ocean area
required to absorb the
carbon emissions
associated with food
production, processing,
and transportation.
How can you reduce your Food Footprint?
 Reduce your food footprint by:
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eat low on the food chain
shop often at farmers markets or natural food stores
select certified organic foods when they can
eat fewer big meals
maintain a garden for their vegetables and herbs have
lower footprint values.
Housing Footprint
 The housing footprint includes the spatial
area of land taken up by a particular housing
unit, the forestland area needed to produce
wood products used in construction and
furnishing, the cropland area displaced by
household water consumption, and the land
and ocean area required to absorb the
carbon emissions associated with housing
construction and maintenance.
How can you reduce your Housing
Footprint?
 You can reduce your housing footprint by:
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Choosing furnishings that are second-hand,
recycled, or sustainably produced.
Use biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products.
Wash cars rarely, or better yet, take them to a
carwash. Commercial carwashes use less water
per wash than home washers, and they are also
required to drain used water into the sewage
system, rather than storm drains.
Take shorter, less frequent showers-this not only
saves water, but the energy necessary to heat it.
Goods and Services Footprint
 The goods and services
footprint includes the
amount of land and ocean
area required to absorb the
carbon emissions
associated with
manufacturing, transport,
and disposal of goods, the
land area used for
commercial activities, and
the forest area required to
produce pulp and paper
products.
How can you reduce your Goods and
Services Footprint?
 You can reduce your Goods and Services Footprint
by:
 Buy less! Replace items only when you really
need to.
 Recycle all your paper, glass, aluminum, and
plastic. Don't forget electronics!
 Compost food waste for the garden.
 Buy recycled products, particularly those labeled
"post-consumer waste."

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