An ecological footprint is an instrument that enables an educated guess of the biologically fruitful area required to uphold existing consumption patterns. While doing so, it considers man’s activities making it possible to predict the impact of such activities on the surroundings. This report examined the ecological footprints of different countries including the United States. It intended to ascertain these ecological footprints from facts accessible on the Global Footprint Network website. It was assumed that nearly all developed countries had higher ecological footprints than developing countries. All facts were obtained from the Global Footprint Network. The statistics showed that the world had a total of 6.476 billion residents, which translated to a total ecological footprint of 27 hectares per person. In the U.S., the total ecological footprint was found to be 8.0 hectares per person. The United States did not satisfy the prerequisites for sustainability. It was also realized that developed countries had high ecological footprints compared to their developing counterparts. It was suggested that reducing the amount of energy used could help lower the ecological footprint in the United States.
An ecological footprint is a tool used to approximate the biologically fruitful area that is needed to sustain existing consumption patterns while taking into consideration current industrial and financial processes. It is a resource balancing utility that assists nations to appreciate their environmental balance sheet (Footprints for nations, n.d.). In addition, it provides facts that are essential in the management of resources thereby helping a country safeguard its future. This technique examines a fundamental environmental prerequisite for sustainability by making it possible to weigh human impact against the earth’s restricted productive zone (Ecological footprint, 2011). Ecological footprints have instructive strength because they convey the outcomes of the analyses in the form of spatial units, which can be relayed without any problems. Most ecological footprint approximations give data on international, nationwide as well as sub-national levels.
The present world witnesses elevated rates of population growth such that the numbers of people inhabiting the earth exceed the capacity of the earth to support them. Consequently, environmental resources are very crucial. Most countries have their own environmental risk reports. Numerous countries have footprints that surpass their natural capacity making them operate at ecological shortages.
This report looked at the ecological footprints of various countries paying particular attention to the United States. It aimed to determine the ecological footprint from data available at the Global Footprint Network website. It was hypothesized that most developed countries had high ecological footprints compared to developing countries.
Materials and Methods
All facts were obtained from the Global Footprint Network. The drop-down menu labeled ‘Footprint Basics’ was used to search the ‘Footprint for Nations’ options. A link for ‘2010 Data Tables’ appeared at the bottom of the page. That link was clicked, and the table that appeared was used to answer the provided questions. Subsequently, a personal ecological footprint quiz was taken, and the data obtained were used to answer some other questions.
The statistics indicated that the world had a population of 6.476 billion. That meant an individual had approximately 1.8 hectares to himself. Therefore, the world’s total ecological footprint was 27 hectares per person. In the United States alone, the total ecological footprint was estimated at 8.0 hectares per person. A careful look at the statistics revealed the total ecological footprint of other developed nations. Canada, for example, had a total ecological footprint of 7.0 hectares per individual, whereas Japan had a sum of 4.7 hectares per person. Australia was found to have a total ecological footprint of 6.8 hectares per person. Of the European countries, the country that had the highest total ecological footprint was Denmark at 8.3 hectares per person.
A look at a few less developed countries realized that Nigeria had a total ecological footprint of 1.4 hectares per person, whereas Bangladesh had 0.6 hectares per person. China, the most populous country was found to have a total ecological footprint of 2.2 hectares per person.
In addition, it was realized that the United Arab Emirates had a higher footprint than the United States. In the Americas, the lowest footprint of 0.4 hectares per person was observed in Timor Leste. Three other countries that had a national footprint of 0.5 hectares per individual were Burundi, Iraq and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
In the analysis of the EF, the category that corresponded to the author’s highest category was services at 44 %, whereas the lowest was shelter at 8%. The author required a sum of 20 global hectares to sustain his lifestyle. If everybody lived like the author, 4.5 earths would be needed. Therefore, the author’s lifestyle did not meet the definition of sustainability.
The United States does not meet the definition of sustainability. This can be attributed to the fact that an individual in the United States uses a total of 44% energy land. If such usage is to be extrapolated to the entire United States population, then large amounts of energy are used. Consequently, it is realized that the U.S. does not meet the definition of sustainability.
According to economist E. F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful, “the problem passengers on spaceship Earth are the first-class passengers.” The evidence from the above data is provided by the Global Footprint Network supports his observation. It is believed that the wealthiest people produce the most waste. Therefore, the less one has the less one consumes and vice versa. This is evident in the significantly high total ecological footprints of developed countries compared to developing countries. Developed countries are characterized by a lot of industrialization, which entails the utilization and consumption of large quantities of materials and energy. These processes lead to the release of similar quantities of wastes and other hazardous substances to the environment. In addition, developed countries have a lot of energy and other resources at their disposal making it easy for members of such countries to misuse these resources. Going by the above information, it is realized that the experimental results are in line with the proposed hypothesis that most developed countries have high ecological footprints compared to developing countries.
One of the two actions that the United States can take to lower its ecological footprint is to reduce the number of operational power plants to minimize future negative impact from the plants. The second course of action that can be beneficial to the United States is lowering water consumption and educating the public on ways of saving energy and other resources. An educated population is able to use energy efficiently making the decreased power output (from the first course of action) sufficient for daily activities. Consequently, less energy is going to be released to the environment leading to a reduced ecological footprint.
Ecological footprint. (2011). Web.
Footprints for nations. (n.d.). Web.