Everything you need to know about the ecological footprint

Here we explain what it is and the types of areas in which the ecological footprint is studied

Everything you need to know about the ecological footprint

Making the decision to eat or not eat meat, transporting to a certain place, buying new clothes, water and energy consumption, believe it or not, impact the environment. It's not just about you, it's about millions of people who do the same thing every day and who unknowingly are running out of natural resources.

Leer en español: Todo lo que debes saber sobre la huella ecológica

Then, ecological footprint refers to the impact that human beings have on the planet's resources, which are not necessarily renewable, but on the contrary become reduced, because consumption exceeds the speed at which they can recover.

The dispute to reach a particular lifestyle, either through unbridled consumption and through a system of unfeasible production for the planet, is highly destructive. The Living Planet 2018 report, published by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), coincides. In the last 50 years, the ecological footprint has increased by almost 190%, forcing the ecosystems of the entire planet to face important changes, which jeopardize the flora and fauna.

"The patterns of consumption, in clothes and the amount of meat we consume affect the size of the footprint. It is not a topic necessarily linked to changes in the way people consume; in fact, it is about overpopulation. Every day there are less resources, every day there is more exploitation, more industrial productivity and more emission of gases due to the high demand for fuel", says Santiago Roa, chemical engineer and biologist at the Universidad de los Andes.

In what areas is the footprint measured?

Measuring the impact of the human being on the planet is a complex task, because that sum implies taking into account the variables where some kind of human labor is exercised. For this reason, the footprint can be calculated in areas such as grazing lands, forest products, fishing zones, croplands, and urbanized land.

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Moreover, there are measures that can help control the increase of the footprint. "To reduce these impacts there are several alternatives. For example, if you were going to measure eutrophication, which is the loss of oxygen in the water, the way to counteract it would be to stop using detergents that have sulphates and replace them with biodegradable detergents. Now, if you measure the carbon footprint, which is the most sounded because of climate change, you have other options: not to use the car, not using public transportation, not eating meat, etc. However, these measures must be adjusted to reality to achieve a balance. If you have a farm, you can allocate a part of it to the forest, planting the native species of the area, thereby reducing the footprint in forest areas. Of course, the ideal is not to touch the ecosystems, but that will not happen", says Mauricio Cote, a chemical engineer with a PhD in industrial ecology.

Given the situation, there are already several industries that have embraced the concept of carbon neutrality, which consists of quantifying carbon levels to counteract them with other actions such as planting trees. Even so, that does not mean that the trace disappears, because even the fact of being born, of breathing, produces a demand for the planet.


LatinAmerican Post | María Alejandra Gómez
Translated from “Todo lo que debes saber sobre la huella ecológica”

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