Ecological footprint

Ecological footprint This indicator is an estimate of the amount of space on the earth that an individual uses in order to survive using existing technology.

Ecological footprint

Rees, The University of British Columbia Conventional wisdom suggests that because of technology and trade, human carrying capacity is infinitely expandable and therefore virtually irrelevant to demography and development planning.

By contrast, this article argues that ecological carrying capacity remains the fundamental basis for demographic accounting. A fundamental question for ecological economics is whether remaining stocks of natural capital are adequate to sustain the anticipated load of the human economy into the next century.

Since mainstream neoclassical models are blind to ecological structure and function, they cannot even properly address this question.

The present article therefore assesses the capital stocks, physical flows, and corresponding ecosystems areas required to support the economy using "ecological footprint" analysis. This approach shows that most so-called "advanced" countries are running massive unaccounted ecological deficits with the rest of the planet.

Since not all countries can be net importers of carrying capacity, the material standards of the wealthy cannot be extended sustainably to even the present world population using prevailing technology. In this light, sustainability may well depend on such measures as greater emphasis on equity in international relationships, significant adjustments to prevailing terms of trade, increasing regional self-reliance, and policies to stimulate a massive increase in the material and energy efficiency of economic activity.

Please address correspondence to Dr. According to Garrett Hardin"carrying capacity is the fundamental basis for demographic accounting. Their vision of the human economy is one in which "the factors of production are infinitely substitutable for one another" and in which "using any resource more intensely guarantees an increase in output" Kirchner et al.

As Daly observes, this vision assumes a world "in which carrying capacity is infinitely expandable" and therefore irrelevant.


Clearly there is great division over the value of carrying capacity concepts in the sustainability debate. This article sides solidly with Hardin. I start from the premise that despite our increasing technological sophistication, humankind remains in a state of "obligate dependence" on the productivity and life support services of the ecosphere Rees, Thus, from an ecological perspective, adequate land and associated productive natural capital are fundamental to the prospects for continued civilized existence on Earth.

However, at present, both the human population and average consumption are increasing while the total area of productive land and stocks of natural capital are fixed or in decline.

These opposing trends demand a revival of carrying capacity analysis in sustainable development planning.

Ecological footprint

The complete rationale is as follows: Carrying Capacity and Human Load An environment's carrying capacity is its maximum persistently supportable load Catton For purposes of game and range management, carrying capacity is usually defined as the maximum population of a given species that can be supported indefinitely in a defined habitat without permanently impairing the productivity of that habitat.

However, because of our seeming ability to increase our own carrying capacity by eliminating competing species, by importing locally scarce resources, and through technology, this definition seems irrelevant to humans.

Indeed, trade and technology are often cited as reasons for rejecting the concept of human carrying capacity out of hand. The reason for this becomes clearer if we define carrying capacity not as a maximum population but rather as the maximum "load" that can safely be imposed on the environment by people.

Human load is a function not only of population but also of per capita consumption and the latter is increasing even more rapidly than the former due ironically to expanding trade and technology.What is your Ecological Footprint? How many planets does it take to support your lifestyle?

What country do you live in?

Take this free quiz to find out! National ecological surplus or deficit, measured as a country's biocapacity per person (in global hectares) minus its ecological footprint per person (also in . Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Ecological economics (also called eco-economics, ecolonomy or bioeconomics of Georgescu-Roegen) is both a transdisciplinary and an interdisciplinary field of academic research addressing the interdependence and coevolution of human economies and natural ecosystems, both intertemporally and spatially.

Ecological footprint

By treating the economy as a subsystem of Earth's larger ecosystem, and by emphasizing . The ecological footprint measures human demand on nature, i.e., the quantity of nature it takes to support people or an economy.

It tracks this demand through an ecological accounting system. The accounts contrast the biologically productive area people use for their consumption to the biologically productive area available within a region or the world (biocapacity, the productive area that.

The Ecological Footprint tracks the use of six categories of productive surface areas: cropland, grazing land, fishing grounds, built-up land, forest area, and carbon demand .

Ecological footprint | Sustainable Measures