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Lecture 2

SCIE 1P50 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Guesstimate, Mathis Wackernagel, Ecological Footprint

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Caroline Starrs

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SCIE 1P50 - Lecture 2 - Consuming Earth’s Resources
Consuming Sustainably
Using goods and services of the planet for our needs
Leaving sufficient goods and services of the planet for others including future
Problems with Sustainability
Human population growth impacts all environmental problems and consumption of
goods and services
Our consumption of resources has increased faster than our population growth
How can we measure consumption?
How to evaluate
Giving up not an option
The capacity of ecosystems to produce useful biological materials and to absorb waste
materials generated by humans, using current management schemes and extraction
Biocapacity is usually expressed in areas of lands: global hectares gha
How much bio productive area is available to us?
Biocapacity shrinks upon the increase of the population which increases ecological and
social instability (ecological footprint)
Assessing Environmental Impacts
Ecological footprints offer a way to
o Track
o Measure
o Compare (ourselves, before and after)
o Formulate policy
o Mitigation initiatives (To be opting for cleaner fuels, renewable, more efficient
technology. This is the opposite of an adaptation)
Ecological Footprint
How much bio productive area do we demand? How much of the earth’s regenerative
biocapacity is used by humans?
Mathis Wackernagel & William Rees (1996) [Created theory of Ecological Footprint]
o The area of land and water ecosystems required, on a continuous basis, to
produce the resources we consume, and to assimilate the (mainly carbon)
wastes that the population produces, wherever on Earth the relevant land/water
may be located.
Ecological footprints - Production and consumption of good and services involve land
Each country’s ecological footprint is different, resulting in a different ecological footprint
to produce the same product
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