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EcologicalFootprints


Ecological Footprints

We Depend on Nature
? We exchange energy and
matter with our environment as we
– Eat – Drink – Breathe

? We use
– Energy for h

eat and mobility – Wood for housing and paper – Food and water for living

We Depend on Nature
? Nature
– Absorbs our wastes – Provides climate stability – Protects us from ultraviolet radiation ? In cities we tend to think of nature as a collection of commodities we obtain from around the world ? But nature is the very source of our lives and well being

Ecological Footprints
? The amount of
ecologically productive land used by individuals, cities, countries, etc. ? Production and use of goods and services involve land use: have ecological footprints

Ecological Footprints
? Energy Land
– Fossil energy consumption requires Co2 sink

Ecological Footprints
? Consumed Land
– Built environment

Ecological Footprints
? Farm Land
– Food production

Ecological Footprints
? Forest Land
– forest products

Transportation Footprints
? If one person travels 5
kilometers twice each workday:
– Bicycle: 122 sq meters – Buses : 301 sq meters – Cars: 1,442 sq meters

Agricultural Footprints
? Open Field production of
tomatoes takes up more land than greenhouse production ? But Greenhouse production has a much larger ecological footprint (10-20x)
– Energy – Fertilizer – Other inputs

Urban Footprints
? Imagine New York City
covered by a bubble like Biosphere II in Arizona ? Most people would die within a few days ? Cities depend on much greater amount of land, environment for vitality

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap970408.html

Urban Footprints
? Now imagine how big that
bubble would have to be for the city to be

self-sustaining
? This is the ecological
footprint of the city ? Actually 347,000 square miles
– to support 20 million in U.S. lifestyle – size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.

National Footprints
? ? ? ?
Holland population 15 million Density = 4.4 People per Hectare Consumption is less than in U.S. Still, Dutch people require 15x more land than is within their country for
– Food – Forest Products – Energy Use

? Therefore, the ecosystems that
support Holland lie far beyond their national borders

National Footprints
? In U.S. each person uses about 4.5
hectares/person ? Worldwide average = 1.5 hectares/person ? Therefore if everybody were to adopt the U.S. consumptive style, we would need 3 planets

Iowa Footprint
? Iowa Population is

?
? ? ?

2,776,000 U.S. average footprint is 4.5 hectares/person Iowans need 12.5 million hectares of average land to support themselves Iowa area is 14.5 million hectares Therefore we can support at least another 444,000 Americans

Inequity
? We all compete for
ecologically overloaded world ? Excess consumption by affluent countries takes up ecological footprint that would be used by poorer nations
http://www.thesavvytraveller.com/agraphics/insights/geography/1ge neral/photoessays/dalusio_menzel/material_world.jpg

Resource Distribution
? Wealthiest 25% of the
world uses 75% of the world’s resources ? If four people landed on an island, could divide the land up into 4 equal sections, trade goods. ? Is it fair if one of those people claims ? of the land, forcing the other 3 to live off of ? of the land?

Can everyone live like we do?
? No. There is not enough
earth to support it ? Thus all poor countries cannot follow the miracle of developed countries ? Someone must bear the ecological burden of consumption by the affluent ? Our continued overconsumption hits the poor hardest

Science Objection
? Footprint Analysis is a
crude simplification ? Interactions with nature are complex ? Can’t reduce such complexity to a mater of hectares

Answer to Science
? Footprint analysis may not

?
? ? ?

tell whole story Is good enough to show us what must be done Newtonian physics good enough to get us to moon Avoid paralysis by analysis Footprints may actually underestimate impact of humans on environment

Marketplace Objection
? Global income is rising
faster than human population ? Agricultural production is responding to growing demand ? Environmental problems are due to poorly defined property rights or prices ? If prices right, market will solve problems

Answer to Marketplace
? Yes, when nature is
undervalued, it gets used and abused ? Pollution charges and depletion charges can be useful to reduce environmental damage
– Require Government Intervention

? Footprint analysis may help
determine true costs

Answer to Marketplace
? Not everything in
nature should be privatized or priced
– Stable Climate? – Safe Ozone Level?

? Much of our
income today derived from liquidation of our natural “capital”

Natural Capital: Forests

http://www.iisd.org/wcfsd/worldmap.jpg

Natural Capital: Soils

http://www.povertymap.net/mapsgraphics/index.cfm?data_id=23360&theme=

Free Trade Objection
? Trade is beneficial, has improved
standard of living ? Let people in different parts of the world do what they do best: Comparative Advantage
– Coffee and Bananas from Developing Countries – Computers from Developed Countries

? Is also more economically efficient to
do what is more ecologically efficient
– Makes sense for tomatoes to be grown in Mexico rather than in greenhouses in Canada

Answer to Free Trade
? Economics looks at
money flow ? Footprint analysis looks at Ecological flow ? Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan provide little ecological productivity to the world, draw a lot. ? Not everybody can be a net importer

Answer to Free Trade
? Expanding economy
stimulates depletion of planet’s natural resources ? People who are using Footprint resources far from home have no incentive to conserve them
Indonesian Oil Palm Plantation

Answer to Free Trade
? Intensive production
methods accelerate depletion and pollution ? Economic benefits of intensive production are not equitably distributed ? Those who need income displaced from land ? Profits from intensive Ag go to those already well off.

Answer to Free Trade
? Global economy is pressing
ecological limits ? Poverty still affects 1 billion people ? We don’t need “Free Trade” ? Need terms of trade that
– Encourage rehabilitation of natural capital – Direct benefits of export activities to those who need them

Uncertain Future Objection
? Prediction about the
future are always way off ? Can be sure the future will be different from what we expect

Answer to Uncertain Future
? Footprint Analysis is
not a predictive tool ? Is an “ecological camera” that takes a snapshot of our current demands on nature ? Extrapolation into future really measures sustainability gap”

USA at night from orbit

South America

Europe

East Asia

Answer to Uncertain Future
? Footprints also show
material inequity ? Footprints show us how much we must
– reduce our consumption – improve technology – change behavior to be sustainable

Technology Fix Objection
? For hundreds of years
people have worried that we would run out of resources ? Technological revolution has increased abundance and lowered prices of goods and services ? Thus one farmer produces more than 200 farmers did 200 years ago

Technology Fix Objection
? Millions in N.
America better off than kings and queens in past due to technology:
– Live more comfortably – Are healthier – Feel more secure – Eat better

http://www.thesavvytraveller.com/agraphics/insights/geography/1general/photoessays/dalusio_menzel/material_ world.jpg

Technology Fix Objection
? Computer revolution could not
be predicted ? We can’t anticipate future benefits of genetic engineering ? When people faced with a problem they come up with a solution
– Medicine – Transportation – Communication

? We can fix any problem in the
future

Answer to Technology Fix
? Technology will play a role
in making society more sustainable ? If global economy to be 10x the size of today, we need technology that makes us 10x more resource efficient ? Solar water heaters, insulation reduce our footprints and maintain standard of living

Answer to Technology Fix
? Some technologies
substitute natural capital for labor:
– Intensive Agriculture

? Gains in technology can
encourage consumption
– Efficient cars just used more frequently! – Despite efficiency gains, energy consumption has increased

Gas-Electric Hybrid Car

Optimism Objection
? Footprints are
depressing ? Apocalyptic visions never come true ? Look on the bright side!

What, me worry?

Answer to Optimism
? Acknowledging finite capacity of
Nature is not pessimistic: is realistic ? It allows wise decisions ? Footprint assumption: we must live with global carrying capacity
– Number of people the earth can sustain

? If we choose wisely, may increase
quality of life ? Concerned that our life now is destructive ? Sooner we start moving toward sustainability, easier it will be for humanity

Energy Production Objection
? Energy is driving force of
human enterprise ? With enough energy we can do anything
– Clean up environment – Irrigate Deserts – Build fast transportation networks – Power highly productive greenhouses

? Soon we will have unlimited
energy sources
– Fusion, Fission – Tidal, Solar

Answer to Energy Production
? Sun = 175,000 terawatts shine

? ?
? ? ?

on earth Fossil fuels use =10 terawatts Imagine impact of unlimited energy supply We’ve run down planet with just 10 terawatts extended human activities may produce new limiting factor: Waste Assimilation Still, moving toward solar energy would be good, would reduce our footprint

What Should We Do?
? I asked the author of this
book what kind of technology research he thought the universities should be doing ? Answer: Research to help us reduce our ecological footprint without reducing our standard of living:
– sustainability


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