Monday, February 10, 2014

Human Ecological Footprint

Planet Earth is the Home for human beings, animals and plants. Man dominates the world and exploits all available resources. He works as the agent of all environmental degradation. He also becomes its prime victim. Overshoot growth is beyond an area’s carrying capacity, leading to crash: die-off. The WWF's Living Planet Report 2004 confirms that humanity is now consuming over 20 % more natural resources than the Earth can regenerate. August 22, is Earth overshoot day, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year.

Concept of ecological footprint

It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It is a measure of the demands and the consumption of natural resources by people. The sizes of ecological footprint vary from country to country and from person to person. The ecological footprint compares human demand with planet Earth's ecological capacity . Per capita ecological footprint (EF) is a means of comparing consumption and lifestyles, and checking this against nature's ability to provide for this consumption.The ecological footprint can also be a useful tool to educate people about carrying capacity and over- consumption , with the aim of altering people behavior and life style. EF is a performance measure of productive capacity of the biosphere used to provide natural resources and absorb wastes. In 2006, the average biologically productive area per person worldwide was approx. 1.8 global hectares (gha) per capita. For 2006, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.4 planet Earths. In other words, humanity uses ecological services 1.4 times as fast as Earth can renew them. EF is the amount of resources needed by a single individual to survive. The current human population’s ecological footprint is equal to 1.5 Earths. Ecological footprint analysis is now widely used around the globe as an indicator of environmental sustainability. We have one planet, so we must find ways to live within earth’s limits. Global ecosystems have a limited ability to supply us with natural resources (e.g. water, food, solar energy). This is called biocapacity. When a population’s ecological footprint exceeds the biocapacity, biological resource “overshoot” occurs.
A global ecological footprint is defined as the average global capacity to produce resources and absorb waste products. There are only 2.1 global hectares of biologically productive area/ person available on the planet. But the average global ecological footprint is 2.7 global hectares / person.

Impact of ecological Footprint

Every living organism consumes the Earth's resources in order to survive. The consumption of natural resources and subsequent waste has an impact on our ecosystems. When the consumption and waste activities extend beyond the earth's carrying capacity, ecological degradation occurs. Since the mid 1980s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what earth can regenerate each year. It now takes the Earth one year and four months to regenerate what we use in a year.

Concept of carbon footprint

It is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through fossil fuel combustion.The carbon footprint has become a popular tool to estimate GHG emissions related to human activities (Moss et al 2008,Wiedmann 2009). Carbon footprint (CF) – also named Carbon profile - is the overall amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a product. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of carbon dioxide e.g.the burning of fossil fuels for domestic energy consumption and transportation. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect carbon dioxide emissions from the whole life cycle of the products. An average Carbon footprint of a British citizen is about 10 tonnes of CO2. An average Carbon footprint of an Indian citizen is round about 1.5 tonnes of CO2.
Human activities that cause Carbon footprint - use of transportation (planes, cars, trains);burning of fossil fuels (petrol, coal);process of manufacturing products (clothing, food, personal products);use of household electricity (computers, lights); use of pesticides;Heating and cooling – hot water showers, central heating, air conditioning.

Kyoto Protocol

Six greenhouse gases are regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, as they are emitted in significant quantities by human activities and contribute to climate change. The six regulated gases are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Types of carbon emissions as “colors of carbon”

Brown carbon refers to industrial emissions of GHGs. Green carbon refers to the carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems-e.g. plants, soils, wetlands grazing lands. Blue carbon denotes carbon stored in ocean ecosystems- e.g. mangroves, marshes, sea grasses, coral reefs, macro-algae. Black carbon is the carbon from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

The living planet index

LPI It is a measure of the change in the health of world’s natural ecosystems. The global living planet index is a measure of overall trends in populations of terrestrial, marine and freshwater vertebrate species. The index declined by 27 per cent from 1970 to 2005. The living planet index measures trends in the earth’s biological diversity - Terrestrial Living planet index showed a decline of - 33% between 1970-2005. Marine living planet index showed a decline of - 27 % between 1970-2003. Freshwater living planet index showed a decline of - 50% between 1970-1999.

Concept of Ecological integrity, EI

 The Aim of EI is to sustain life on earth. It is a measure of ecological health.

There are 3-facets in ecological integrity -It is the ability to maintain optimum operations under normal conditions; it is the ability to cope with stress in environmental conditions and it is the ability to continue self-organization, evolve, develop and proceed with cycle of birth, death and renewal. EI describes the functioning of nature and human relationships with nature. It includes physical, chemical and biological integrity. Global ecological integrity is the ability of nature’s life support systems to withstand perturbations and continue to provide their usual life – sustaining services.

Global ecological dis-integrity

Environmental degradation is the loss of integrity. Ecological imbalance is the destabilization of fragile environment .
Causes of disintegrity- 1.over – consumption;2.population growth;3.misuse/abuse of technology.
Health effects of global ecological disintegrity - 1.low life expectancy at birth; 2.high infant mortality rate; 3.percent of low birth weight babies

Green technology

Green technology is environmentally friendly technology and is created and used in a way that conserves natural resources and the environment. It's main goal is to find ways not to damage or deplete the Earth's natural resources. The use of green technology (clean technology) reduces the amount of waste and pollution that is created during production and consumption.

No comments:

Post a Comment