Ecological Footprint Image Orange Footprint Network News
Issue 22, March 1, 2010  

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About Global Footprint Network
Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.

Advisory Council
E.O. Wilson
Manfred Max-Neef
Rhodri Morgan
David Suzuki
Emil Salim
Julia Marton-Lefèvre
William E. Rees
Lester Brown
Jorgen Randers
M S Swaminathan
Daniel Pauly
Eric Garcetti
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Michael Meacher
Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Will Steffen
Dominique Voynet
Fabio Feldman
Oscar Arias
Peter Raven
Mick Bourke
Norman Myers
Gus Speth
Stephen Groff
Thomas E. Lovejoy

Taking on the 9 billion ton hamster

Global Economy an “Impossible Hamster”

In its recent report, Growth Isn’t Possible, UK-based nef (the new economics foundation) concludes that it is impossible to avoid the dangers of climate change as long as economic growth continues in high-income countries. 

And what better way to illustrate this finding than with a nine billion ton hamster?

Together with its partners One Hundred Months and Wake Up, Freak Out, nef uses a seemingly harmless hamster in an animated clip to highlight the dangers of endless growth on a finite planet. “A young hamster doubles its weight each week between birth and puberty,” an ominous voice on the clip warns. “But if it grew at the same rate until its first birthday, we’d be looking a nine billion ton hamster.”

Ecuador Addresses its Ecological Balance Sheet

Ecuador has become the first country to set a concrete Ecological Footprint target. The country has included the goal in its National Plan that, by 2013, its Ecological Footprint will be within its biocapacity, a trend that it will maintain going forward.

“Ecuador wants to be a leading country [in] officially using the Ecological Footprint as a resource accounting tool for policy and decision-making,” Ecuador Environment Advisor Dania Quirola Suárez said in a roundtable side-event with Global Footprint Network at the Copenhagen climate talks.

Footprint Forum 2010 in Siena: Meet the Winners of the 21st Century

The Forum Roundtables held June 7 through 12, 2010 in Tuscany, will include a special track on the future of the Mediterranean region. These highly interactive discussions will explore how countries, communities or companies in the Mediterranean region – and beyond – can prepare for and succeed in a world of increasingly severe resource constraints, such as climate change, water scarcity, urban crowding, and soaring energy costs.

Over the last decades, all Mediterranean nations have started to run ecological deficits; today, each nation’s residents use more ecological services than are available within the nations’ own borders. This puts them into a fragile situation. What will 2030 look like if we fail to address these ecological deficits now? What immediate actions can leaders take to ensure a viable future for their city or country? How is it in each city’s or country’s self-interest to make natural resource issues a priority? For decision-makers, knowing the answers to these questions can mean the difference between their region’s long-term success and its vulnerability in a resource-constrained world.

Other valuable sessions at Footprint Forum include a two day technical training, half day policy workshop, academic conference and a public day.

Please visit the continuously updated conference website at for more information or contact Bree Barbeau directly at

What’s the Footprint of Your Household?

The Salome family in Long Island, NY, pays a whopping $20,000 in utilities a year, in part to keep indoor and outdoor hot tubs percolating at a toasty 104 F. The women of Rutger’s University’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority house haul some 1,120 plastic bottles to the curb each month – a total of $13,440 each year! The Poisler family’s historic 1800s home and its vintage 1970s appliances generate hundreds of dollars of heating and energy bills each month.

Into these hefty Footprint households enter Annabelle Gurwitch and Holter Graham, hosts of Discovery Planet Green’s “WA$TED!”  Now in its second season, WA$TED! continues to entertain and educate viewers by featuring the Ecological Footprint of average Americans. With the help of a Footprint calculator built especially for the series by Global Footprint Network and expert advice from Global Footprint Network partner BioRegional , the show’s crew tallies each household’s Ecological Footprint, then guides them toward simple, low-cost ways to “green up” their act.

The Footprint Takes Flight

Those who were in the Chilean Andes during the first week of January may have witnessed a large blue footprint in the sky. That’s because Global Footprint Network was selected among non-profits around the world to be featured on a glider competing during the 3rd World Sailplane Grand Prix Championship. And not just any glider – the winning glider flown by reigning champion Sebastian Kawa of Poland.

Lama Uses Footprint to Show Disharmony with Nature

Counted among the many who use Global Footprint Network’s “wallet cards” as a teaching tool is Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, a teacher and healer in the Tibetan Tantric tradition. This past August, Global Footprint Network Senior Associate Steve Goldfinger visited Buddhist monasteries in Tibet and southwest China’s Yunnan Province with the Lama.

Business Leaders Present Their Vision for a Sustainable Economy

The world has the resources to allow 9 billion people to live well within the means of one planet – but achieving this goal will require radical transformations to world markets, governance and our very notions of growth and progress. Such is the conclusion of Vision 2050: the New Agenda for Business, an effort by some of the world’s most influential companies to lay out a pathway for achieving a sustainable world by 2050.

The report suggests that greater sustainability and resource-efficiency will, increasingly, become a precondition for corporate success.  “Sustainability will become a key driver for all our investment decisions, said Idar Kreutzer, CEO of Storebrand, a leading Norwegian financial group.

Led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Vision 2050 project – aimed at identifying both the scope of ecological challenges the corporate sector will face in the coming years as well as related opportunities – involved the participation of companies such as Boeing, Syngenta, Weyerhauser, Procter & Gamble, Alcoa, Duke Energy, Toyota and Volkswagen. Global Footprint Network participated in Vision 2050 by creating a scenario calculator that helped leaders run the numbers on various ecological scenarios and solutions.

Open Innovation Lab Unites “Seekers” with “Solvers”

In an age where “greenwashing” is more prevalent than ever, it’s difficult to determine which organizations are genuinely seeking answers– let alone solutions – to the challenges we face today. Skipso, based in London and Del Mar, California, is doing both.

The organization offers an array of services, functioning as an aggregation site for clean technology and sustainability experts. Its Open Innovation Lab is what truly sets Skipso apart.

Data and Tools Available for License

Licenses for the 2009 National Footprint Accounts are now available from Global Footprint Network. The licenses offer access the spreadsheets used to calculate the national-level Ecological Footprint and biological capacity of more than 240 countries and territories from 1961-2006.

In addition, Global Footprint Network is also presenting its data in a new format called a Consumption Land-use Matrix (CLUM). The CLUM breaks down the overall demand of a nation by activity categories (industrial sectors) in way that allows governments to analyze policy options and test Footprint-reduction scenarios. We now have developed CLUMs for 42 nations and are licensing them to partners. For more information about CLUMs, please contact Meredith Stechbart,