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Issue 31, February 6, 2013: Charting a Safer Course 

Letter from the Editor: Charting a Safer Course
Bringing the Ecological Footprint to Asia
Q&A with Bloomberg’s Gregory Elders and Curtis Ravenel
BioRegional: Is it possible to build and live in a One Planet Community?
Racing Towards Sustainability
Footprint Briefs
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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.

Footprint Briefs

A round-up of other Footprint and sustainability news from across the globe.

  • Enough is Enough » “Enough should be the central concept in economics,” writes Herman Daly, a Global Footprint Network advisor and one of the founders of ecological economics, in the forward to the fascinating new book, “Enough is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.” The book challenges the dominant thesis of contemporary economics: Growth at any cost. Authors Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill start from the observation that the world economy, as it is currently run, is causing long-term environmental, societal and economic damage. They go on to map out alternative paths toward a steady-state economy (an economy with stable or mildly fluctuating size), one that prioritizes human well-being above growth and places economic activity squarely within ecological limits.  Dietz is editor of Daly News and was the first director of CASSE (Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy); O’Neill is lecturer in ecological economics at the University of Leeds and the chief economist at CASSE.

  • More, more and more » The Chatham House produced this elegant and interactive visualization of the new political economy of natural resources, based on a new report called “Resources Futures.” It shows interdependencies among nations (with a focus on crops, meat and dairy, timber, fossil fuels and metal) and allows users to compare the changes in trade flows between 2000 with 2010, with some projections into the future. It also provides a compelling snapshot of a few of the social and political consequences of natural resource shortages and supply disruptions. The projections of population and consumption growth over the coming decades threaten to amplify these risks—or in the words of Chatham House researchers, “the spectre of resource insecurity has come back with a vengeance.” The “Resources Futures” report can be downloaded here.  

  • Was ist der Okologishe Fussabdruck? (What is your Ecological Footprint?) » Students of Fair Future, a German organization dedicated to spreading the word about sustainability, completed an educational tour of more than 1000 high schools across Germany where they engaged over 500,000 students in discussions about sustainability and their Ecological Footprint. The youth challenged their teenage audiences to strive toward one planet living, with the question-and-answer, “What would happen if the entire Earth’s population lived and consumed like Germans? We would need nearly three Earths.” The average Ecological Footprint in Germany equals 5.1 global hectares (gha), while the average across the globe is 2.7 gha. The high-definition multimedia presentation used in the tour was produced with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Oxfam Germany and Federation of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND).

  • “Getting out of debt” » This is the title of an article published in UNESCO’s journal “A World of Science,” referring to the ecological debt of the nations that border the Mediterranean Sea. All 24 nations have become ecological debtors. This is one of many alarming findings of Global Footprint Network’s Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Trends report, launched at a conference in Venice, organized jointly with UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture. The situation deteriorated much faster in the Mediterranean than the global average, with the region’s Ecological Footprint increasing from 2.1 to 3.1 global hectares (gha) per person. You can download the article here, on pages 24-27.

  • Blue Planet Prize program airs on Japanese TV » Blue Planet Prize winners Drs. Mathis Wackernagel, William Rees and Thomas Lovejoy were featured in a program that aired January 11 on JibTV in Japan. They discussed the current state of the world and ways in which we can move toward the world we need in order to flourish within the ecological limits. The program will also air February 8.

  • Farming and the Ecological Footprint » Former Global Footprint Network intern Niccolò Passeri had an article, “The influence of farming technique on cropland: A new approach for the Ecological Footprint,” accepted by the journal Ecological Indicators, to be published this June. The paper investigates the influence of different farming techniques on Ecological Footprint results and proposes a new approach for the evaluation of farming performance. Research and Science team members Michael Borucke and Elias Lazarus are included as authors. Passeri is now a Ph.D. student in the Department of Agriculture, Forest, Nature and Energy, at the University of Tuscia.

  • Ecological Footprint in Swiss media » The Ecological Footprint was covered positively in two mainstream Swiss media outlets, Tages Woche and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The former discusses ecological limits and economic growth. The latter outlet is considered “the New York Times” of Switzerland and the op-ed wonders about policies that may result from consideration of Ecological Footprint trends.

  • In case you missed the news from our Footprint blog » Hundreds Gather in Beirut to Address the Arab Region’s Ecological Footprint and Global Footprint Network Senior Scientist Alessandro Galli Discusses Ecological Footprint in Athenian Parliament.

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