We, humans, have been exploiting nature’s resources ungratefully, in order to sustain our survival. We use nature’s resources to create a comfortable lifestyle, but however, through time, we have expended our needs and our conformity. We always need more and more, transforming luxury into ordinarily action. Furthermore, overpopulated and consumer-based societies tend to occupy greater per cent of the usage of natural resources, because they need more resources than other countries, to satisfy the needs of their citizens.
Brief explanation of the Ecological Footprint (7)
To what extend can we use the natural resources?
The piece of space on Earth that a country ‘occupies’ and uses its resources is called an Environmental footprint. An environmental footprint is the total amount of Earth’s productive land and water, needed to supply resources and absorb waste from the individuals’ or the groups’ consumption (1). In other words, it is the human impact on the environment. The measurement of ecological footprints is usually presented in hectares. However, when people’s impact on the environment spreads in a great extend where the Earth doesn’t have the capacity to sustain them any more, than an overshoot arises (2). An overshoot goes beyond nature’s resources which creates the atmosphere of not having enough supplies for a species’ survival i.e. it goes beyond the Earth’s carrying capacity. The carrying capacity of the Earth is the certain number of species that the environment can sustain, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities for survival (3).
Following from the small research relating the countries’ environmental footprint, we can see that Bangladesh has the smallest EF, whereas The UAE has the highest. What are the reasons?
Bangladesh is a small country located in South-East Asia. Its population number is 158,570,535, which situates Bangladesh on the seventh place of the worlds’ most populated countries. However, although the country has high population rates, its urbanization percentage is 28%. Moreover, Bangladesh’ standard of living is pretty much low and it doesn’t allow its many citizens to enjoy comfortable life (4). The UAE, on the other side, is has the highest EF with 9.9 hectares per person. Although the UAE, a federation in the Arabian Peninsula, has smaller population rates, its standard of living is much higher than the one of Bangladesh. UAE GDP per person is 18, 250, where Bangladesh GDP is 1,700. This means that the UAE enjoy grater standard of living and they can afford themselves to use greater luxuries such as machines for artificial snow, creation of artificial lake, fountains, etc (5). The UAE use further more energy than any other country in the world.
Australia, as well, has very high environmental footprint which estimates 7.7 hectares per person. Australia, also, enjoys high GDP where its citizens live on a higher standard of living. However, Australia’s EF is smaller than the one of the UAE because, Australia is not in possession in many natural resources that the UAE are.
Following from Table 1 and the comparison of the UAE, Bangladesh and Australia, we can conclude that the national GDP has a great effect on the environmental footprint. As higher the GDP is, as greater EF a country has on the Earth. Proportionally, they have a positive relation.
How big is my footprint?
Calculating my personal footprint on the website www.myfootprint.org, I concluded that my usage of the environmental resources is enormous. Sincerely, I thought of myself as a person who treats the environment rightly, but after taking the quiz, I realized that I need to change my lifestyle and be less consuming-oriented.
My footprint compared with the one from my country is shameful. My EF is 18.96 hectares, whereas the one for FYROM is 2.3 hectares. Moreover, my footprint compared with Bangladesh, Algeria and Mongolia’s footprint is much greater. Their footprints vary from 0.6 til 1.5 and my footprint is skyrocketing.
If everyone was to live my lifestyle, each person would need 1.2 Earths each. This number is amazing. Imagine each one of us using and spending amount of resources available in 1.2 Earths!
My footprint in comparison to FYROM’s footprint by consumption category
We can divide the total percentage of our/countries’ footprint in few categories and we might help ourselves change later on with the aim of decreasing each percent.
The first category is carbon footprint. In particular, my consumption of carbon equals the average carbon consumption of my country. That means, most of the residents of FYROM spend about 8.3 hectares of carbon. The carbon footprint relates to the average spending of fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation.
The second categorization is food footprint, which is the environmental impact of food production. My food production compared to my country’s average is much smaller. My impact is 3.5, whereas my country’s average one is 7.1 hectares.
Housing footprint is the next category. My housing footprint is 2.5 hectares where the average person in FYROM would occupy 3.1 hectares.
And last, but not least, it is the goods and service footprint. We can see that the average Macedonian occupyes around 7.5 hectares for goods and services. From that average, I spend around 4.7 hectares.
I can say that my footprints are on a satisfying level. Maybe i spend too much carbon, but relating to the other categories, i spend much less than an average Macedonian.
Without thinking of how and from where the products we get from the supermarkets came from, we don’t realize of our impact on the environment.We use the electricity, food and other supplies unmeasurable because we are certain that we will never run out of them. But, how are we sure about this assumption? We have seen conferring advertisements on the television?
Countries rich with natural resources and high GDP standards don’t even take into consideration the question of sustainability and they don’t question their size of EF, because they enjoy the comfortable life they are living. Countries like the UAE, will not decrease their ecological footprint until they face a drastic shortage of resources. I am afraid that then it will be too late.
We have to be more cautious and more careful not to pressure the Earth’s carrying capacity, but think about the future ahead. Maybe greater governmental policies can create a limit on EF, so most of the countries can have equal and sufficiently necessary access to the Earth’s resources.
(1) “Ecological Footprints-Glossary.” Home – Australian Academy of Science. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. http://www.science.org.au/nova/107/107glo.htm
(2) “Overshoot (ecology).” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot_(ecology)
(3) “Carrying Capacity.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrying_capacity>
(4) “CIA – The World Factbook.” Welcome to the CIA Web Site — Central Intelligence Agency. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html
(5) “Report: United Arab Emirates Has Highest Per Capita ‘Ecological Footprint’ – Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News – FOXNews.com.” FoxNews.com – Breaking News | Latest News | Current News. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,243926,00.html>
(6) Ditchburn. “Man’s footprint on the planet today” (2006).Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://humanitieslab.stanford.edu/UrbanSustainability/759
(7) YouTube. “Emirates Wildlife Society WWF: UAE Ecological Footprint” (2010). Retrieved on March 6, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPiBItRoKMI