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Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth (New Catalyst Bioregional Series) (Paperback) Paperback – July 1, 1998
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Our Ecological Footprint presents an internationally-acclaimed tool for measuring and visualizing the resources required to sustain our households, communities, regions and nations, converting the seemingly complex concepts of carrying capacity, resource-use, waste-disposal and the like into a graphic form that everyone can grasp and use. An excellent handbook for community activists, planners, teachers, students and policy makers.
About the Author
Mathis Wackernagel is currently the Executive Director of Global Footprint Network, and William Rees is the Chair of the School of Urban Planning and Regional Development at the University of British Columbia.
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The first two parts are fairly easy to understand. The graphics throughout are very helpful. Part 3 gets more technical about how to actually use the metrics, and may require some rereading and study. I did for me, and I think I am reasonably scientifically literate. It is worth the read.
Now that everyone has jumped on the "our-planet-is-finite" bandwagon, we need to be reminded that this is where it started.
Much research has been done since it came out, and some of the figures will no doubt be out of date, but it still belongs in every environmentally conscious person's collection. Buy it while you can!
A very important piece of published work that deserves more readership attention.
This is probably the greatest breakthrough in economic thought of the 20th century (however, it has not been rewarded with a Nobel prize, since those are only given to economists following mainstream capitalist dogma's, even if mainstream thinking means heading for doom, and heading fast).
The authors call our attention to the fact that the EF has been changing throughout human history, with an exponential increase in the 20th century. In 1900 the US had an EF of about 1 ha/cap. This rose to about 2 ha/cap around 1950. In 1995 the US reached 5.1 ha/cap, showing a deficit of 80 % of its productive land surface. Japan has even a bigger deficit, requiring 8 times more than its net productive land surface to sustain its current production and consumption level. In this way, the EF also measures how "developed" countries depend on the "Third World" to sustain their production and consumption.
The last 15 years we entered a new phase in capitalist development, with China and India trying to catch up with the western way of life. The authors warn us : "If everybody lived like today's North Americans, it would take at least two additional planet Earths to produce the resources, absorb the wastes, and otherwise maintain life-support. Unfortunately, good planets are hard to find..." The ecological carrying-capacity of spaceship Earth is limited. "Beyond a certain point, the material growth of the world economy can be purchased only at the expense of depleting natural capital and undermining the life-support services upon which we all depend." What capitalism believes in, money, is - in the end - totally worthless. You can't eat dollars, euros nor yens. The only real assets we have, as humankind, are oceans full of life, uncut tropical forests acting as the lungs of the planet, and fertile agricultural land. If we continue to fish beyond sustainability, if we continue cutting tropical forests, if we continue farming producing erosion, and above all, if we continue to believe that we really produce value in this way (in the form of money), we will end up totally broke.
We should stop pretending to be homo sapiens and behave like fools ! We should begin acting in a wise way ! The solutions are really simple. It means transforming our consumption in a sustainable way, at all levels. A lot can be done at a personal level. It means producing your own electricity with solar panels. It means reducing your dependence on fossil fuels by transforming your home in a passive solar house. It means driving an electric car (Fiat will launch the Phylla with solar panels incorporated in the vehicle in 2010). It means buying organics, so that you not only help to sustain pesticide-free agriculture, fertilized with nutrient-rich compost, but even improve your health.
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multiplying at such a rate that the number of humans on Earth has
more than TRIPPLED !Read more