What is the Ecological Footprint

What is the Ecological Footprint

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Leaving the supermarket with a trolley full of plastic bags, canned goods and with many products that have traveled thousands of kilometers before reaching your cupboard is very different from shopping with cloth bags designed to contain only local products. This will significantly lower yours ecological footprint. But what is the ecological footprint?

L'ecological footprint is a measurement method developed in the first half of the 90s by the ecologist William Rees of British Columbia University. The method was reworked by his pupil Mathis Qackernagel, director of theEcological Footprint Network, that is, responsible for the most authoritative and internationally recognized ecological center.

The ecological footprint is a statistical index used to measure human demand for nature. It relates the human consumption of natural resources to the Earth's ability to regenerate them. cit. wikipedia

In other words, the number of global hectares per capita is calculated as the consumption of biologically productive land. Since 1999, the WWF has also decided to adopt this measurement method and periodically updates the calculation of theecological footprint in its annual report "Living Planet Report". In the calculation ofecological footprint the use of six main categories of territory is considered:

  • land for energy: the area of ​​forest necessary to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels;
  • agricultural land: arable area used for the production of food and other goods (jute, tobacco, etc.);
  • pastures: area intended for breeding;
  • forests: area intended for the production of timber;
  • built area: area dedicated to residential settlements, industrial plants, service areas, communication routes;
  • sea: marine area dedicated to the growth of resources for fishing.

It is important to emphasize that this calculation includes only CO2 emissions and excludes other greenhouse gases such as nitrogen. The limits are recognized by the same authors of the measurement method, another big flaw concerns energy, there are no references to procurement from non-renewable sources and also in the case of nuclear energy, the territory for the storage of radioactive waste it is completely ignored.

Given the limitations of the method calculation of the ecological footprint it must be said that the value obtained is underestimated: the real environmental damage is far greater than that shown by theecological footprint. Despite the major flaws, theecological footprint the measurement method adopted by governments remains, it is a useful reference tool but even if parity between estimated consumption and resources were to be achieved, environmental problems would not be solved since the estimates differ considerably from those that are the parameters found in practice.

L'ecological footprint personal, usually examines five categories of consumption:

  • Supply
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Consumer goods (mobile phones, computers, pet plastics, gadgets, accessories, devices ...)
  • Services

With the introductory case, that is with the shopping made in a conscious way with cloth bags and zero-kilometer products, all the points listed above are covered: the food will be sustainable because it comes from a small local producer, there will be no need for a transportation from one region or even between one country to another; there will be a reduction in consumer goods because the bags and packaging will be replaced by plastic bags and consequently fewer resources will be exploited: a local producer does not exploit energy as a large company could do and also the occupied land is far less . The introductory one is a simple example of how our daily gestures can make a difference and greatly lower ours ecological footprint personal.

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