The Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint

In simple terms, Ecological Footprint Accounting is a method of calculating the demand and supply of natural resources.

What Do You Mean by Ecological Footprint?

The ecological footprint is a method promoted by the Global Footprint Network for calculating human demand on natural capital, or the amount of natural resources required to support people or an economy. It uses an ecological accounting system to track this demand. 
The accounts compare the biologically productive area that people consume with the biologically productive area that is available within a region or around the world (biocapacity, the productive area that can regenerate what people demand from nature). In a nutshell, it's a metric for measuring human impact on the environment.
Ecological Footprint

How Ecological Footprint Works?

Ecological Footprint Accounting is a method of calculating the demand and supply of natural resources.
The Ecological Footprint adds up all the productive areas for which a population, a person, or a product competes on the demand side. 
It assesses the ecological assets required by a population or product to produce the natural resources it consumes (such as plant-based foods and fibres, livestock and fish, timber and other forest products, and space for urban infrastructure) and to absorb its waste, particularly carbon emissions.
The Ecological Footprint monitors how productive surface areas are used. Cropland, grazing land, fishing grounds, built-up land, forest area, and carbon demand on land are examples of these areas.
Biocapacity is the productivity of a city's, state's, or nation's ecological assets on the supply side (including cropland, grazing land, forest land, fishing grounds, and built-up land). These areas, especially if left unharvested, can absorb the waste we produce, particularly our carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
Both the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are measured in global hectares, which are standardised, globally comparable hectares with world average productivity.
The Ecological Footprint of each city, state, or nation can be compared to its biocapacity or the world's.
A biocapacity deficit occurs when a population's Ecological Footprint exceeds the region's biocapacity. Its demand for goods and services produced by its land and seas—fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption—exceeds the region's ecosystems' ability to regenerate. 
This is also referred to as "an ecological deficit" in more popular communications. A region with an ecological deficit must import, liquidate its own ecological assets (such as overfishing), and/or emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to meet demand. A biocapacity reserve exists when a region's biocapacity exceeds its Ecological Footprint.
The Ecological Footprint was coined in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, and it is now widely used by scientists, businesses, governments, individuals, and institutions working to monitor ecological resource use and advance sustainable development. 

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

Earth Overshoot Day occurs every year on the day when we have depleted all of the biological resources that the Earth can replenish over the course of the year.
Andrew Simms of the UK think tank New Economics Foundation conceptualised Earth Overshoot Day, which partnered with Global Footprint Network to launch the first global Earth Overshoot Day campaign in 2006.
Global Footprint Network is a non-profit organisation based in the United States that was founded in 2003. Its main strategy has been to make reliable Ecological Footprint data available.
The Ecological Footprint is a metric that compares human demand on nature to nature's ability to regenerate in a comprehensive way.
The Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by multiplying the planet's biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth can generate in a given year) by humanity's Ecological Footprint (humanity's demand for that year) by 365, the number of days in a year:
Earth Overshoot Day = (Earth's Biocapacity / Humanity's Ecological Footprint) x 365 

Why is Earth Overshoot Day in News in 2021?

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), humanity will have depleted all biological resources that our planet regenerates over the course of the year by July 29, 2021.
Earth Overshoot Day 2021 took place nearly a month earlier than the previous year.
Humanity currently consumes 74% more than the planet's ecosystems can regenerate — the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.
Humanity operates on ecological deficit spending from Earth Overshoot Day to the end of the year.
The Global Footprint Network, a global organisation advocating for urgent climate action and sustainable consumption, announces the date every year.
Ecological Footprint

Why Had it Happened a Month Before?

Our global carbon footprint has already increased by 6.6 percent, while our global forest biocapacity has decreased by 0.5 percent as a result of widespread deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
In Brazil alone, which has the largest swath of Amazonian rainforest, 1.1 million hectares of rainforest were lost.
Deforestation had also increased by 12% in 2020, with projections for 2021 indicating a 43 percent year-on-year increase.
Every year, we use approximately 1.7 Earths at our current rate. We're operating on "ecological deficit spending" until the end of the year.
According to UN data, our spending for 2021 is among the highest since we entered overshoot territory in the 1970s.

What are the Future Predictions on Ecological Footprint?

•    In 2021, there will be a 43 percent increase in deforestation year over year.
•    This year, transportation's carbon footprint will be lower than it was before the pandemic.
•    CO2 emissions from road travel and domestic air travel will be 5% lower in 2020 than in 2019.
•    CO2 emissions from international aviation will be 33% lower than in 2019.
•    However, as economies recover from the effects of Covid-19, global energy-related CO2 emissions will rise 4.8 percent from last year.
•    Coal is estimated to account for 40% of the total carbon footprint on the planet.

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