Footprint Network Blog - 2007

The Footprint Steps Into Latin America

12/19/2007 07:51 PM

Global Footprint Network and the Ecological Footprint recently played a prominent role at Clima Latino, the largest conference on climate change ever held in Latin America. Hosted by the Community of Andean Nations (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia), the Republic of Ecuador, and the Ecuadorian cities of Quito and Guayaquil, the conference was attended by 1550 participants from 40 countries. Held consecutively in the two cities from 15-18 October, 2007, Global Footprint Network was represented by its Senior Scientist Steve Goldfinger, who gave a well-received plenary presentation and helped lead two workshops.

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Categories: Footprint for Government

Footprint a Centerpiece of Europe’s Beyond GDP Conference

12/19/2007 07:46 PM

GDP is the most recognized indicator in the world, but a country’s high GDP does not always mean that its people are doing well. This is the reason that over 500 high-level economic, social and environmental experts met at the historic Beyond GDP International Conference in Brussels in late November.  The European Commission, European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and WWF hosted this high-level conference with the objectives of clarifying which indices are most appropriate to measure progress, and how these can best be integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate. The Ecological Footprint was featured as a central alternative to the GDP at the conference, most notably in a keynote address by WWF’s President and former minister of Nigeria, Emeka Anyaoku.

Categories: Footprint for Government, Footprint Standards, Our Partners’ Work

Scottish Government Adopts the Ecological Footprint as a Performance Measure

12/19/2007 07:41 PM

The Scottish Government announced this November that it will use the Ecological Footprint as one of its performance measures as part of its innovative National Performance Framework. The Framework provides a unified vision and quantifiable benchmarks against which the government’s priorities are measured.

One of Scottland’s goals is to “... reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production “and to ‘reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050’. The Local Footprints Project, a Global Footprint Network partner, has just issued a consumption based analysis of Scotland’s Carbon Footprint, based on its 32 local authorities.

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Categories: Carbon Footprint, Footprint for Government, Our Partners’ Work

United Arab Emirates Launches National Footprint Improvement Project

12/19/2007 07:36 PM

Global Footprint Network is pleased to announce the launch of a new research collaboration with the United Arab Emirates. The collaboration involves multiple stakeholders across the nation working together to improve the UAE’s National Footprint Accounts data and apply Ecological Footprint analysis to national policy in order to create a resource-conscious and resource-efficient nation.

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Categories: Footprint for Government

UNEP Global Environmental Outlook 2007 Report Warns about Ecological Overshoot

12/19/2007 07:05 PM

A recent UNEP report states that many of the major threats to the planet, such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population, remain unresolved and are putting humanity at risk. The Division of Early Warning and Assessment of the United Nations Environment Programme released this information and more in their “UN GEO4 report,” the Global Environmental Outlook 2007.

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Categories: Ecological Limits, Footprint for Government

Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Highlights Ecological Limits

12/19/2007 06:58 PM

Don’t miss The Story of Stuff! It’s a new online video that explores the full life cycle of what we buy and the political-economic history of conspicuous consumption. It is smart, fast and fact-filled, informative and positive, and a great tool for raising awareness about ecological limits. The 20 minute film was produced by Free Range Studios and funded by the Tides Foundation and the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption. You can watch it online at

Categories: Ecological Limits, Personal Footprint

The Footprint Makes a Statement in the Sand

12/07/2007 01:21 AM

Global Footprint Network Partners Ecolife and WWF Belgium have collaborated with a Flemish TV Station to create a giant Footprint on the Belgian beach of Zeebrugge.

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Categories: Our Partners’ Work

Announcement: Ecological Debt Video Contest Now Open!

11/29/2007 06:51 PM

Telling a complex story in an interesting way is challenging. Leonardo Di Caprio and Al Gore did it. And so can you! The recent documentaries about environmental degradation, the depletion of resources, and climate change showed the power of video to help people to understand scientific concepts.

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Categories: Ecological Limits, Our Partners’ Work

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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Categories: Ecological Limits, Our Partners’ Work

Utah: The First U.S. State to Measure Footprint

08/15/2007 11:11 PM

The Utah Population and Environment Coalition (UPEC) spearheaded the first effort to calculate the Ecological Footprint of a US state. The report, Utah Vital Signs 2007: the Ecological Footprint of Utah finds that Utah’s Footprint is greater than its biocapacity. Between 1990 and 2003, Utah went from an ecological surplus of 10.8 million global hectares (gha) to an ecological deficit of 2.4 million gha; Utahns are now using 11% more regenerative capacity than is available in their state. Despite this evidence of local ecological overshoot, public response to the study has been mostly positive, says Sandra McIntyre, the project director. “As we take the results of the study into the community, we are pleased to see how many people in Utah are making changes in their lifestyles to become more sustainable.”

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Categories: Footprint for Government, Our Partners’ Work

BioRegional joins Global Footprint Network

08/15/2007 11:05 PM

Global Footprint Network is thrilled to have BioRegional Development Group join us as one of our newest sponsoring partners. Bioregional develops innovative low-Footprint, locally-based commercial products such as hemp textiles and builds communities that are designed to help residents move toward a “one planet lifestyle.” These One Planet Living Communities, such as the UK’s BedZed eco-village, are paving the way for a transformation in how housing is developed around the world.

To kick off our partnership, Global Footprint Network provided BioRegional staff with an intensive 2-day technical training that will help them use the Ecological Footprint to analyze the performance of their One Planet Living Communities.


Running the Numbers : an American Self-Portrait

08/15/2007 10:59 PM

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Artist Chris Jordan‘s photos speak volumes. In Jordan’s own words, the photographs portray “contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics.”

Many of the images portray a specific quantity of something Americans consume: 8 million toothpicks, representing the number of trees harvested in the US every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs; 106,000 aluminum cans, reflecting “thirty seconds of can consumption,” according to Jordan. The image above, for example, is a portion of Jordan’s image of 426,000 cell phones, which he says is “equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.”

This series will be exhibited at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, opening Sep 8. More info at

Categories: Ecological Limits

What exactly is the Carbon Footprint?

05/03/2007 07:25 PM

Carbon dioxide is emitted whenever human activities involve the burning of fossil fuels. This waste will accumulate in the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, unless it can be captured and stored by plants. The carbon Footprint therefore measures the demand on biocapacity that results from burning fossil fuels in terms of the amount of forest area required to sequester these carbon dioxide emissions. Note that this does not suggest planting forests is the ‘solution’ to climate change; on the contrary, it shows that the biosphere does not have sufficient capacity to sequester all the carbon we are currently emitting.

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Categories: Carbon Footprint, Footprint Standards

Ecological Footprint in the Spotlight at Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship

05/03/2007 07:15 PM

Global Footprint Network’s founders, Susan Burns and Mathis Wackernagel, traveled to the Skoll World Forum this March to receive the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Skoll awardees are tackling some of the world’s most pressing social problems with creative and innovative approaches. Susan and Mathis returned from the forum thoroughly inspired.

If you would like to be inspired too, Watch Uncommon Heroes. Common Good, and hear the stories of this year’s award winners.

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South Australia seeks to reduce its Ecological Footprint 30% by 2050

05/03/2007 07:07 PM

The Premier of South Australia, Hon Mike Rann has sought to bring ‘Ecological Footprint’ thinking to the core of decision-making, by including the Ecological Footprint as a key sustainability indicator in South Australia’s Strategic Plan. The Plan establishes a target to reduce South Australia’s Ecological Footprint by 30% by 2050.

The 2007 edition of the plan also seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050. Greenhouse gas emissions make up more than half of South Australia’s Ecological Footprint and the aggressive reduction target has been approved by the legislature.

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Categories: Carbon Footprint, Footprint for Government, Our Partners’ Work

Envisioning a Low Footprint Scotland

05/03/2007 06:59 PM

A new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Towards a Low Footprint Scotland, plots how Scotland could move to a low-carbon, safer and more equitable society, providing a high quality of life for its citizens.

The report calculates that if everyone in the world consumed natural resources and generated carbon dioxide at the rate of Scotlanders, we would need three planets to support us. It concludes that Scotland needs to reduce its Footprint by 75% by 2050 in order to live within the planet’s resources, and that this cut can be achieved through more efficient products and better, less wasteful, consumption.

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Categories: Footprint for Government, Our Partners’ Work

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