OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT October 24, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Environment.
So we accept the statistics about climate change, or not? Let us suppose as the figures suggest, and what seems to be to eminently reasonable in relation to carbon gas emissions, that the climate is warming. Then let us look at what we might be responsible for, our statistical ecological footprint, which reflects the social consumption patterns that translates on a per capita basis into water shortages and environmental degradation.
Now it is the case, in a very minor way and in joint ownership I am a real property owner, but I think the sense of that is the continuation of the custodianship of the indigenous people of this continent, who through the thousands of years stepped lightly on the earth with the realization that the environment sustained them. We are disconnected. Sitting before our screens we are removed from an actual reality as the water comes through pipes from remote reservoirs and energy is transmitted through lines from sources with side effects that damage the planet.
The ABC reports on the WWF Report that Australians, who are not alone, are stamping an impression on the available resources in a detrimental way, since the rate of use is greater than the rate of renewal. We need to get our consumption into balance, and that will require both changes to our behavior and public policy, which inevitably be confronted by powerful interest groups arguing the case of technological fixes.
The technological fixes are often suggested to be on the macro-scale, such as the “clean and green” nuclear power rather than the “clean and green” solar energy. In recent days, the BBC was requesting suggestions for a shower song that the customers of Energy Australia could sing which would get them out of the shower more quickly so that they did not over-consume electricity. Converting to solar heating is the obvious answer which seems to have escaped the self interest of Energy Australia. And so it goes.
Six years later, Australia still ranks sixth in the world (so the graph for 2002 is still relevant). One factor among others in Australia, similar to Norway, is the high use of private cars – so we need public transport policies that will provide alternatives.
I note in passing the Sweden, where nuclear power has been abandoned, or that course at least considered, has a smaller per capita footprint than Finland, where nuclear power is being developed. Nuclear power represented 45% of Sweden’s power supply in 2005:
This year’s report was launched in Beijing including two major indicators of Planet Earth’s well being, which the report summarizes as:
The first, the Living Planet Index, measures biodiversity, based on trends in more than 3,600 populations of 1,300 vertebrate species around the world. In all, data for 695 terrestrial, 344 freshwater and 274 marine species were analyzed. Terrestrial species declined by 31 per cent, freshwater species by 28 per cent, and marine species by 27 per cent.
The second index, the Ecological Footprint, measures humanity’s demand on the biosphere. Humanity’s footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003. This report shows that our footprint exceeded biocapacity by 25 per cent in 2003. In the previous report (based on data to 2001), this figure was 21 per cent. The carbon dioxide footprint, from the use of fossil fuels, was the fastest growing component of our global footprint, increasing more than ninefold from 1961 to 2003.
Countries of over a million people with the largest footprint, in global hectares per person, are the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Finland, Canada, Kuwait, Australia, Estonia, Sweden, New Zealand and Norway. China comes mid-way in world rankings, at number 69, but its growing economy and rapid development mean it has a key role in keeping the world on the path to sustainability.