Presentation on theme: "What are ecological footprints? Ecological footprints measure the extent to which humans are using the Earth’s bioproductive capacity Units are global."— Presentation transcript:
What are ecological footprints? Ecological footprints measure the extent to which humans are using the Earth’s bioproductive capacity Units are global hectares –A hectare of land with “average bio-productive capacity (for agriculture, forest, nutrient cycling, energy production, etc.) –A hectare = 2.5 acres (1 acre is about a football field between the 5 yard lines) (1 hectare is 2 complete football fields with endzones)
Ecological Footprint From Living Planet Report 2008, World Wildlife Fund, 2008.
Ecological footprints measure Earth’s carrying capacity for humans In 2010, the biosphere had about 11.5 billion hectares of biologically productive surface (about 1/4 of the total planet) –2 billion ha of ocean (the continental shelves) –9.5 billion ha of land Current estimates indicate that humans are over- shooting the Earth’s carrying capacity by 25-50% –To sustain the current carrying capacity, we could need 1 1 / 2 Earths! –But, population growth and increasing development means that we are increasing our use of Earth’s carrying-capacity (bio-capacity)
From Living Planet Report 2008, World Wildlife Fund, 2008.
With respect to sustainability of the human endeavor, population growth rate and population size are only part of the picture: per capita consumption is the other Developed countries have very large ecological footprints
Ecological Footprints (Hectares per person)
Ecological Footprint by Region From Living Planet Report 2008, World Wildlife Fund, 2008.
United States Ecological Footprint By Component Biocapacity varies somewhat over time because of technology, agricultural practices (such as fertilizer use and irrigation), ecosystem degradation
Mexico’s Footprint by Component
Mexico Mexico has moved from using only 1/3 of its biocapacity in 1961 to nearly 1 ½ times its own biocapacity in 2002
Calculate your own ecological footprint (Can you realistically reduce your footprint to 1 planet?)
So, where do we stand? There are 11.5 billion hectares of bio-productive land, and it is declining There are about 7 billion people, and increasing at about 1% per year There are currently 1 2 / 3 hectares per person, and most ecologists believe this is insufficient to support a significant quality of life for the average person on Earth If we continue down the path we are on, there will be less than 1 hectare per person by 2050
Sustainability ? From Living Planet Report 2008, World Wildlife Fund, 2008.
Envisioning Solutions Former president Bill Clinton has argued that combating climate change doesn’t have to mean economic hardship (Clinton Initiative Topic) It could be the biggest development stimulus since World War II, creating millions of jobs and saving trillions of dollars in foreign fuel imports What are some of the strategies we have available? 9-20
Controlling Emissions is Cheap Compared to Climate Change A 2010 study by the Pew Trust estimates the cost of lost ecological services by 2100 Costs included factors such as lost agricultural productivity from drought, damage to infrastructure from flooding and storms, lost biological productivity, health costs from heat stress, and lost water supplies The Pew report found that climate change is likely to cost between $5 trillion and $90 trillion by 2100 The Stern Review (2006) estimates a cost of only about 1% of global GDP to avoid the worst impacts of climate change
There Are Many Ways We Can Control Greenhouse Emissions We can reduce dependence on coal, which produces more CO 2 per energy unit than any other fuel We could institute fees for selling fossil fuels–these would help fossil fuel prices represent their many hidden costs We can invest in new technologies and energy efficiency We can institute emissions trading, by instituting a legal cap on emissions, then allowing companies to buy and sell shares of that total cap (California’s AB-32 does this)
A Wedge Approach Involves Dissecting the Problem into Stepwise Solutions To avoid a doubling of atmospheric CO 2 we need to reduce our annual carbon emissions by about 7 billion tons (=7 gigatons or GT) by 2060 Scientists have divided these emissions into 14 “wedges”, each of which represents 1 GT of carbon emissions avoided in the year 2060
Local Initiatives Are Effective California has greatly reduced Carbon emisions by switching all coal burning power plants to natural gas (decreased CO 2 by 30%) & switching to green energy production New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark pledged that her country will be the first to be “carbon neutral” Germany has reduced its CO 2 emissions at least 10 percent by switching from coal to gas and by encouraging energy efficiency throughout society Denmark now gets 20% of its electricity from windmills
California: A long history of investing in clean power and energy efficiency
California is a model for efficiency ∆(2005)= 4,000kWh/yr= $400/capita kWh/person United States California Per Capita Electricity Sales (not including self-generation)
Energy Efficiency Strategies Flattening out the curve – yesterday –Decouple sales from revenues– eliminate disincentive –Set and strengthen building and appliance standards –Invest in utility energy efficiency programs Bending the curve downward– tomorrow –Strengthen incentives– “Decoupling Plus” –Set long term goals to achieve durable, broad-based reductions –Enhance strategic planning: work backwards from goals –Improve branding, messaging and marketing –Invest in workforce and research and development
Accomplishing just half of these wedges could level off our emissions. Accomplishing all of them could return to levels well below those envisioned in the Kyoto protocol Wedge Analysis
McKinsey, December 2007 U.S. GHG Abatement Mapping Initiative
22 States Committed to Regional Carbon Markets (w/ an additional 8 “observing”) Source: Pew Center
Products and the Environment At first glance, the relationship between products & our environment may seem clear, BUT….
Let’s consider the simple French fry What are its connects to the environment? What impact does it have?
How did the fry get to the restaurant? Producer Distribution Center Processing Plant Suppliers Bob’s Burger Shop Truck
What impact did its journey have? Producer Distribution Center Processing Plant Suppliers Bob’s Burger Shop Truck Fossil Fuels Freezer Fertilizers Pesticides Machinery Hydropower Fossil Fuels Machinery Fossil Fuels Packaging Hydroflourocarbons Irrigation Hydropower Freezer Food waste Machinery Fossil Fuels Hydroelectric dam Fossil Fuels Animal Feed Irrigation Seeds
What impact did these impacts have? Runoff Air Pollution Solid Waste Air Pollution Fossil Fuels Freezer Fertilizers Pesticides Truck Machinery Hydropower Truck Fossil Fuels Machinery Fossil Fuels Damage To Ozone Packaging Hydroflourocarbons Irrigation Hydropower Freezer Food waste Machinery Producer Distribution Center Processing Plant Suppliers Fossil Fuels Truck Hydroelectric dam Loss of Biodiversity Fossil Fuels Animal Feed Loss of Biodiversity Irrigation Seeds Fossil Fuels Bob ’ s Burger Shop Air Pollution
How might all of this affect the Earth’s systems?
We’ve considered only the potato Consider all the other parts of your meal –the other foods –the utensils –the napkins –the condiments –the drinks… There are multiple environmental impacts involved in these as well