Personal Ecological Footprint

In response to the Living Planet Report 2006, in which WWF calculates the footprint that humans have on nature, I decided to estimate my own footprint and see if I'm doing fine. I don't want to be responsible for exploiting two Earths while having only one available!
| posted on Wed, 25 Oct 2006, 17:31 | weblog | rss | spin-off | comments |

The report is a good, objective measurement of a few important factors of our consumption, in comparison to what resources are available. It gives a better indication of how we are doing then relative measures like 'we brought down CO2 exhaust by 10%' which can lead to the naive conclusion 'we are doing something, so we are doing fine'.

The report clearly shows that economically thriving countries place a heavy burden on the planet's resources, and even the existence of poor countries cannot make up for that.

To know whether I was a part of all those problems, I made an estimate of my personal footrprint, and I challenge everyone else to do the same.

My situation is not average, so I've adapted from the average Dutch figures; the unit is global hectare:

Resource NL Average My estimate Explanation
Cropland 0.58 0.58  
Grazing land 0.23 0.01 No lactose; hardly any meat
Forest: paper, timber 0.32 0.64 Small company: more paper
Forest: fuel wood 0.00 0.00  
Fishing ground 0.30 0.30  
Fossile-fuel CO2 2.78 0.00 No car; CO2-compensation
Nuclear 0.05 0.00 Green electricity
Built-up land 0.13 0.13 (what is this?)

The most important to me is comparison of my sitution to the resources available. Both to my country (which is low in resources so it is bound to look bad) and to the world as a whole.

Resource Available My footprint Usage in %
Cropland 0.32 0.58 181%
Grazing land 0.05 0.01 24%
Forest: paper, timber 0.11 0.64 582%
Forest: fuel wood -/- 0.00  
Fishing ground 0.17 0.30 176%
Fossile-fuel CO2 -/- 0.00  
Nuclear -/- 0.00  
Built-up land -/- 0.13  

On the whole, I use 255% of what is available to me in my country. As stated before, the Netherlands is low in resources. The comparison with the world as a whole therefore is more pleasing to look at:

Resource Available My footprint Usage in %
Cropland 0.53 0.58 109%
Grazing land 0.27 0.01 4%
Forest: paper, timber 0.78 0.64 82%
Forest: fuel wood -/- 0.00  
Fishing ground 0.14 0.30 214%
Fossile-fuel CO2 -/- 0.00  
Nuclear -/- 0.00  
Built-up land -/- 0.13  

On average, I use 97% of my share the world's resources. But that is no relief, for a number of reasons:

Why this estimate, and why online? I hope to set an example. I think it helps a great deal if more people look into these figures. If you don't want to calculate it yourself, use one of the online footprint calculators instead. Knowing you're doing something may feel good, but only if we're doing enough can our planet sustain.

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