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The Concept of Ecological Footprint

Discuss About The Ecological Footprint Assignment And Growth.

Ecological footprint can be referred to as the outcome of activities performed by human that is measured in terms of the area of the useful land and water required to produce the goods used up and the wastes formed. This is actually a resources accounting tool that helps to measure how much biologically productive land or sea is being used up by the given population. The urban growth of the population is a very common phenomenon around the globe for the past few years. Wu, (2014) have identified four primary categories of environmental influences due to the urban growth. According to Fang, Heijungs & de Snoo,(2014), the human population will pass the 6 billion mark. The collective ecological footprint has already outstripped the planet's natural resources. This depletion of natural resources is marked by the impact of the rapid growth of population in the suburbs. As it stands now, approximately 500 million of the people on this planet are responsible for the 50 % emission of the carbon dioxide emissions, and the as per the trends the population growth will continue resulting in the further reduction of the natural resources (Wu, 2014).

It has been found that mountains are the dwelling place to about one tenth proportion of the  population of the world and cover about 25 % of the total land surface of the earth. They covers almost half of the biodiversity. Due to the overexploitation of the natural resources by the growing population the ecological carrying capacity of the ecosystem is decreasing. The main concept of the ecological footprint is to find out the bio-productive land required by humanity for the consumption of the non renewable sources. Higher ecological footprint is related to urbanization, due to the use of forest or agricultural lands, use of natural resources and energies. Smoke emitted by the vehicles in the urban areas acts as the key contributors for vehicular population. The report released in the year 2001 by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), provided a clear connection between the environment and the human induced greenhouse gas emission  (Fang, Heijungs & de Snoo, 2014).The increased use of the vehicles have increased the carbon footprint of the sub-urbs which was not this high earlier.  The data for the ecological footprint can be reduced by a number of factors such as increasing the share of waste separation or waste recycling. Other ecological footprints left by the population growth are the diminishing of the pastoral lands and the forests. 

Impact of Urban Growth on the Environment

The three types of fossil fuels like oil, coal, natural gas, together account for about 83 % of the total energy consumption. Energy consumption and ecological footprint are proportional to each other. Canada has currently a per capita consumption of about 5.5 kW power. Previously the per capita consumption of energy was much less as there was much less car around, absence of centralized heating system. Energy is recognized as one of the key factors for the social and industrial development in the suburban areas.  Rabid population growth in the suburban areas has catered to increased industrialization in those areas (Sadorsky, 2014). Urbanization had caused production swings from lesser amount of energy intensive agriculture to the more energy intensive manufacturing. Urbanization has facilitated fuel switching and decentralization of the rural energy sources such as traditional wood burning (Sadorsky, 2014). All these had lead to more energy consumption and thus depletion of the conventional energy reserves.

As per the global footprint network, the current ecological footprint is 1.4 times bigger than the ecological productive area of the planet. The technology based present form of this planet is not sustainable. The advances in the hydraulic fracturing techniques or horizontal drilling may propel the industry to longer length and greater depth, but they are also posing challenges on the sustainable environment. Recently scientists are looking forward to the development of technologies that are environment friendly and are more sustainable reducing the ecological footprint. These technologies may include machineries for waste management, electrical appliances consuming less energy, sustainable vehicles.

In conclusion it can be said that Humanity's ecological foot print has exceeded the   biocapacity of the earth by more than twenty percent. This is due to the indiscriminate use of the natural resources such as the energy, water, air and forest resources. In order to reduce the further outstripping of the foot prints, it is required to check the human exploitation of the natural resources of the Earth. Proper governmental policies and human awareness can help in building a more sustainable environment.

References

Fang, K., Heijungs, R., & de Snoo, G. R. (2014). Theoretical exploration for the combination of the ecological, energy, carbon, and water footprints: Overview of a footprint family. Ecological Indicators, 36, 508-518.

Sadorsky, P. (2014). The effect of urbanization and industrialization on energy use in emerging economies: implications for sustainable development. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 73(2), 392-409

Stechbart M., Wilson J. (2010) PROVINCE OF   ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT AND BIOCAPACITY ANALYSIS. Produced for State of Ontario's Biodiversity 2010 report province of Ontario. Retrieved from:  https://www.footprintnetwork.org/content/images/uploads/Ontario_Ecological_Footprint_and_biocapacity_TECHNICAL_report.pdf

Wilson, B., & Chakraborty, A. (2013). The environmental impacts of sprawl: emergent themes from the past decade of planning research. Sustainability, 5(8), 3302-3327.

Wu, J. (2014). Urban ecology and sustainability: The state-of-the-science and future directions. Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, 209-221.

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