Footprint Network Blog

Why the Number of Feet Matters

10/24/2007 10:45 PM

A recent feature on population in the Economist discusses economic challenges when a nation’s population falls.  In this feature, “How to deal with a falling population”, 28 July 2007, the Economist tries to minimize concerns about world population by saying that we are “hardly near the point of [resource] exhaustion”.

The Economist received a flood of letters insisting that rising world population and resource depletion are indeed serious problems.  So many comments were sent in that the Economist published a follow-up piece, Population and its discontents: Lighten the footprint but keep the feet. This too highlighted deep misunderstandings about the relationship between population and humanity’s demand on our biosphere, and in particular, confusing population growth rates and population size.

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Managing Ecological Investment Risk

Carsten Henningson - 10/23/2007 11:06 PM

There is one complex term to describe our future: limited biocapacity. The earth’s limited biocapacity is the greatest challenge we face as investors and as humans. We are already facing it, but the severity of its effects depends on where you live and how much money you have.

The planet provides some amazing ecosystem services for our economy. It recycles our polluted air and dirty water; it provides timber, cropland, and many other raw materials and support services. When I was born in 1960, the ecological footprint of the world economy consumed about half of the earth’s resource capacity. In other words, our 1960 world economy consumed less than what the earth was able to renew, recycle, or produce as ecosystem services. Twenty five years later the ecological footprint of the world economy doubled. In 1985, we hit the threshold of using everything the planet could renew, recycle, or produce each year. If the ecological footprint of our world economy had stayed at this level, society’s demand on nature would be in balance with nature’s capacity to meet that demand-assuming we had transitioned from oil to renewable energy. But that’s not what happened.

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Welcome - The Center for a New American Dream

10/23/2007 10:53 PM

We are thrilled to welcome our new partner the Center for a New American Dream. The Center has long had a major influence in North America, helping people to examine consumerism, live better lives and make a difference. Author Bill McKibbin recently said: “The Center for a New American Dream has hit on just the right mission and just the right tone: we can live happier lives, and when we do our communities, human and natural, will prosper as a result.”

Global Footprint Network is excited to have a new partner so experienced with connecting with the American public to add value to our partner community.

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Ecological Debt Day

10/23/2007 10:09 PM

Saturday, October 6 marked Ecological Debt Day - the day when humanity has consumed all the resources the planet will produce this year.

Ecological Debt Day highlights the fact that humanity is living off its ecological credit card. Just as spending more money than you have in the bank leads to financial debt, ecological overshoot, or using more resources than the planet can renew in a year, accumulates an ecological debt. This can go on for a short time, but ultimately it leads to a build up of waste and the depletion of the very resources on which the human economy depends.

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