1. ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINTHumanity needs what nature provides, but how do we know how muchwe’re using and how much we have to use?The Ecological Footprint has emerged as the world’s premiermeasure of humanity’s demand on nature. It measures how much landand water area a human population requires to produce the resourceit consumes and to absorb its wastes, using prevailing technology.
2. Our current global situation: Since the mid 1980s, humanity has beenin ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceedingwhat Earth can regenerate each year.It now takes the Earth one year and four months to regenerate whatwe use in a year.We maintain this overshoot by liquidating the Earth’s resources.Overshoot is a vastly underestimated threat to human well-being andthe health of the planet, and one that is not adequately addressed.By measuring the Footprint of a population—an individual, city,business, nation, or all of humanity—we can assess our pressure onthe planet, which helps us manage our ecological assets more wiselyand take personal and collective action in support of a world wherehumanity lives within the Earth’s bounds.
3. Conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at theUniversity of British Columbia, the Ecological Footprint is now in wideuse by scientists, businesses, governments, agencies, individuals, andinstitutions working to monitor ecological resource use and advancesustainable development.
4. Ecological footprint analysis compares human demand on nature withthe biospheres ability to regenerate resources and provide services.It does this by assessing the biologically productive land and marinearea required to produce the resources a population consumes and
5. absorb the corresponding waste, using prevailing technology.Footprint values at the end of a survey are categorized for Carbon,Food, Housing, and Goods and Services as well as the total footprintnumber of Earths needed to sustain the worlds population at thatlevel of consumption. This approach can also be applied to an activitysuch as the manufacturing of a product or driving of a car. Thisresource accounting is similar to life cycle analysis wherein theconsumption of energy, biomass (food, fiber), building material,water and other resources are converted into a normalized measureof land area called global hectares (gha).