Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is defined as the sum total of greenhouse gases produced from various activities. It is expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The carbon footprints are usually calculated for a nation or an entity such as an individual or an organisation for a certain time period, such as a year.Sustainable Development 129

Ecological Footprint
The simplest way to define an ecological footprint would be to call it the impact of human activities measured in terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated. More simply, it is the amount of the environment necessary to produce the goods and services consumed to support a particular lifestyle.

Comparison between Demand and Supply of Natural Resources
Biocapacity refers to the capacity of a given biologically productive area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb wastes. Unsustainability occurs if the area’s ecological footprint exceeds its biocapacity.

Biologically productive area is needed to provide everything people use: Fruits and vegetables, fish, wood, fibres, absorption of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and space for buildings and roads.

Biocapacity is the productive area that can regenerate what people demand from nature. Footprint and biocapacity can be compared at the individual, regional, national or global scale. Both footprint and biocapacity change every year with the number of people, per person consumption, efficiency of production and productivity of ecosystems.

Indicator of Sustainability
Ecological footprint analysis is widely applied around the Earth as an indicator of environmental sustainability. On the global scale, footprint assessments show how big humanity’s demand is as compared to what planet Earth can regenerate.

Earth Overshoot Day (EOD)
Earth Overshoot Day, EOD is the calculated day on the calendar when the human consumption of natural resources for a particular year go beyond the earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources for the same year. In other words, it is the day when humanity world over uses and consumes all the natural resources produced by earth for that particular year. Formerly, this day was also known as Ecological Debt Day (EDD). EOD is calculated by Global Footprint Network.

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the global biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the global ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year). The result is multiplied by 365 (number of days in a year).

Earth Overshoot Day = {\displaystyle ({\text{World Biocapacity}}/{\text{World Ecological Footprint}})\times 365} × 365

In 1987, Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) was calculated as December 19. However, in 2018, the EOD was calculated as August 1. EOD also indicates that human consumption is creating increasing demands and is using natural resources faster than the ecosystem can regenerate in a year.

In other words, humanity at present is using nature 1.7 times faster than the speed at which nature can regenerate itself. This can also be compared to using 1.7 Earths.

Global Footprint Network (GFN)
It is an international non-profit organization, founded in 2003, headquartered in Oakland, California. It has objective of controlling and finally ending ecological overshoot by creating awareness and influencing policies of various nations. According to GFN, policies by various nations should be made considering ecological limits.

Every year, GFN prepares National Footprint Accounts, under which it calculates Ecological Footprint and Bio capacity of more than 200 countries.

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