The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth



What is an ecological footprint? (A definition)


An ecological footprint can be defined as the individual's or a group's demand on nature. It is a relatively convenient way of expressing a complicated calculation as a single, and therefore, while valid, an over-generalized number.

A lot of its validity depends on the initial assumptions: does it assume that humans take it all, or is a healthy amount left inviolate for the rest of life? If the latter, how much is that?

If the footprint number is over one, and presently, for the Earth it is approximately 1.7, then humanity is in overshoot. We didn't see this at first because Nature is vast, but now She is, visibly and rapidly, contracting. For example, insects are vanishing and vertebrates have been reduced by two thirds in the last 50 years. Countries with a footprint over one are devastating their own ecologies, and that of other countries, to support what amounts to their gluttony.

Since 1970, while Earth's human population more than doubled and its vertebrate people's population more than halved, the human footprint has gone up from approximately one Earth to approximately 1.7 Earths.

* * * * *

For further reading, see the original book on the subject: Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth (New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1996).



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