Patterns in Resource Consumption
* This is the theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste, under prevailing technology. * It is measured in acres or hectares and calculates the amount of the earth’s bioproductive space – ecologically productive land and water – a given population is consuming. * The calculation takes into account the following:
* 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, and also for ecosystems services like climate stability and erosion prevention. * Oceans – for fish and other marine products.
* Infrastructure – transportation, factories and housing, based on the built-up land used for these needs. * Energy costs – land required for absorbing carbon dioxide emissions and other energy wastes. * Species extinction and toxic pollution of the air, water and land are not yet taken into account in calculating ecological footprints. Our global and national footprints
* The planet’s biological productive capacity (biocapacity) is around 1.9 hectares or 4.7 acres per person but we’re currently using 2.2 hectares per person thus living beyond the planet’s biocapacity to sustain us by 15%. * This deficit is showing up as failing natural ecosystems – forests, oceans, fisheries, coral reefs, rivers, soils and water – and global warming. * The planet’s biocapacity is affected by the global population and the rate of consumption- higher consumption depletes the planet’s carrying, renewal and regeneration capacity. * If global population trends continue, the ecological footprint available would reduce to 1.5 hectares per person by 2050 and if the world’s rate of consumption increases to the same rate as rich western countries, we would need 4 or 5...
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