Essay on Ecological Footprint
The ecological footprint is an indicator and mode of environmental impact assessment that records the “pressure” exerted by the men on natural resources and “ecosystem services” provided by nature. More specifically, it measures the food production areas of land and water needed to produce the resources that an individual, population or activity consumes and to absorb the waste generated, taking into account technical and management resources involved. These areas are expressed in global hectares (gha), that is to say, in hectares with productivity equal to the average productivity.
This metaphorical “areas” are virtual, but they reflect a very concrete reality. Everyone intuitively understands that in a finite world where the population grows, the larger the “footprint,” the more distant we are from the ideal of sustainability and durability development (i.e., metaphorically, over the entity is “heavy,” its footprint is more profound and less reversible on the planet, especially if the area at its disposal is small).
In broader sense, it is a method of environmental accounting, which compares the “footprint” of a population in relation to the surface of the earth.
The calculation of the ecological footprint of an entity or territory responds to a specific scientific question and not to all aspects of sustainability, or to all environmental concerns. The ecological footprint helps to analyze the state of the pressures on the environment from a particular angle, starting from the assumption that the regenerative capacity of the Earth may be the limiting factor for the human economy if it continues to overuse what the biosphere is able to renew.
A metaphor often used to express the number of planets necessary for a given population if their lifestyle and consumption was applied to the entire world population.
A smaller footprint can be chosen or imposed more or less easy or difficult depending on the productivity of the environment in which we live, and the number of people who need to take the necessary resources for their lives there. Men are not equal either face the consequences of climate geography and environmental disruption. The poorest countries still have an ecological footprint per person below the average level that can be sustained by the planet, but they aspire to grow and generally have a high population.
The ecological footprint is closely linked to the use of fossil fuels, but not only.
In terms of biofuels, some, especially ethanol, have a strong footprint, either directly (deforestation in Brazil, transporting food products in other countries) or indirect (high consumption of petroleum products to produce ethanol in the temperate countries).
We celebrate the International Day of the ecological footprint – May 3.
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