Global Footprint Network

Clay, CA, United States

Global Footprint Network

Clay, CA, United States
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Galli A.,Global Footprint Network | Wiedmann T.,CSIRO | Ercin E.,University of Twente | Knoblauch D.,Ecologic Institute | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2012

In recent years, attempts have been made to develop an integrated Footprint approach for the assessment of the environmental impacts of production and consumption. In this paper, we provide for the first time a definition of the "Footprint Family" as a suite of indicators to track human pressure on the planet and under different angles. This work has been developed under the 7th Framework Programme in the European Commission (EC) funded One Planet Economy Network: Europe (OPEN:EU) project. It builds on the premise that no single indicator per se is able to comprehensively monitor human impact on the environment, but indicators rather need to be used and interpreted jointly. A description of the research question, rationale and methodology of the Ecological, Carbon and Water Footprint is first provided. Similarities and differences among the three indicators are then highlighted to show how these indicators overlap, interact, and complement each other. The paper concludes by defining the "Footprint Family" of indicators and outlining its appropriate policy use for the European Union (EU). We believe this paper can be of high interest for both policy makers and researchers in the field of ecological indicators, as it brings clarity on most of the misconceptions and misunderstanding around Footprint indicators, their accounting frameworks, messages, and range of application. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | November 23, 2016
Site: www.csmonitor.com

The fight against fake news is putting librarians on the front line – and they say they’re ready Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12, 2016. Stephen Hawking thinks humanity has only 1,000 years left of survival on Earth and that our species needs to colonize other planets. The famed physicist made the statement in a speech at Oxford University Union, in which he promoted the goal of searching for and colonizing Earth-like exoplanets. Developing the technology to allow humans to travel to and live on faraway alien worlds is a challenge, to say the least. But is Hawking right that humanity has only 1,000 years to figure it out? The dangers Hawking cited — from climate change, to nuclear weapons, to genetically engineered viruses — could indeed pose existential threats to our species, experts say, but predicting a millennium into the future is a murky business. "While I respect Stephen Hawking enormously, speculating on how long Homo sapiens will survive before extinction is foolish," said John Sterman, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. "Whether we survive and thrive or descend into chaos is not something to predict or lay odds on, but a choice to be made." [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth] If climate change continues apace, it will likely lead to a great deal of friction for the human species. "There may be incredible amounts of food and water stress in some regions; combined with sea-level rise, this will lead to massive numbers of environmental refugees — enough to make the Syrian diaspora seem simple to absorb," said Shawn Marshall, a professor of geography and a climate change researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada. Humanity is surviving now only by depleting the planet's natural resources and poisoning its environment, Sterman told Live Science. The nonprofit Global Footprint Network estimates that humanity uses up the resources of 1.5 Earths each year, essentially overdrawing from the planet's natural bank account. The problems of sustainability can't wait 1,000 years, Sterman said. "Whether we can prevent damaging climate change, and the broader issue of whether we can learn to live within the limits of our finite world, will likely be determined this century," he said. Emmanuel Vincent, a research scientist at the University of California, Merced and founder of the outreach organization Climate Feedback, echoed the call to make sustainable decisions now. "It is important to remind [people] that one cannot predict whether a catastrophic event will wipe out humans within the next thousand years," Vincent told Live Science. "What Hawking is doing here is speculating on the risk that this will happen, and he estimates that the probability of extinction is high. While I agree that this is possible, I would like to emphasize that this primarily depends on how we manage to prevent such catastrophic outcome as a society." [7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction] This doesn't mean humans will necessarily go extinct if we make poor choices. Climate-wise, the planet is currently about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial averages, Marshall said. (The past year has set multiple modern heat records.) In comparison, temperatures during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were about 10 degrees C (18 F) warmer than preindustrial averages, or about 25 degrees C (45 F) compared with today's 16 degrees C (29 F), Marshall said. Yet life was quite abundant at that time, he told Live Science. "It would be a habitable but rather different world," he said. "We'll run out of fossil fuels before we evaporate the oceans away." So humans probably won't manage to actually bake themselves in an oven made of greenhouse gases, though tropical areas may become too hot for habitation, Vincent said. The real question is whether humans would be able to handle the upheaval that climate change would bring as coastlines vanish, diseases spread and weather patterns change. "On its own, I don't see how climate change would lead to human extinction," Marshall said. "It would have to be through the social unrest triggering nuclear warfare, or some other societal implosion as a result of the environmental degradation." Already, there are warning signs beyond warming temperatures. About half of global wildlife has been wiped out over the past 50 years, Vincent said. The situation is serious enough that many scientists believe the planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. "Anyone who thinks we can solve these problems by colonizing other worlds has been watching too much 'Star Trek,'" Sterman said. "We must learn to live sustainably here, on the one planet we have, and there is no time to lose."


News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Stephen Hawking thinks humanity has only 1,000 years left of survival on Earth and that our species needs to colonize other planets. The famed physicist made the statement in a speech at Oxford University Union, in which he promoted the goal of searching for and colonizing Earth-like exoplanets. Developing the technology to allow humans to travel to and live on faraway alien worlds is a challenge, to say the least. But is Hawking right that humanity has only 1,000 years to figure it out? The dangers Hawking cited — from climate change, to nuclear weapons, to genetically engineered viruses — could indeed pose existential threats to our species, experts say, but predicting a millennium into the future is a murky business. "While I respect Stephen Hawking enormously, speculating on how long Homo sapiens will survive before extinction is foolish," said John Sterman, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. "Whether we survive and thrive or descend into chaos is not something to predict or lay odds on, but a choice to be made." [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth] If climate change continues apace, it will likely lead to a great deal of friction for the human species. "There may be incredible amounts of food and water stress in some regions; combined with sea-level rise, this will lead to massive numbers of environmental refugees — enough to make the Syrian diaspora seem simple to absorb," said Shawn Marshall, a professor of geography and a climate change researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada. Humanity is surviving now only by depleting the planet's natural resources and poisoning its environment, Sterman told Live Science. The nonprofit Global Footprint Network estimates that humanity uses up the resources of 1.5 Earths each year, essentially overdrawing from the planet's natural bank account. The problems of sustainability can't wait 1,000 years, Sterman said. "Whether we can prevent damaging climate change, and the broader issue of whether we can learn to live within the limits of our finite world, will likely be determined this century," he said. Emmanuel Vincent, a research scientist at the University of California, Merced and founder of the outreach organization Climate Feedback, echoed the call to make sustainable decisions now. "It is important to remind [people] that one cannot predict whether a catastrophic event will wipe out humans within the next thousand years," Vincent told Live Science. "What Hawking is doing here is speculating on the risk that this will happen, and he estimates that the probability of extinction is high. While I agree that this is possible, I would like to emphasize that this primarily depends on how we manage to prevent such catastrophic outcome as a society." [7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction] This doesn't mean humans will necessarily go extinct if we make poor choices. Climate-wise, the planet is currently about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial averages, Marshall said. (The past year has set multiple modern heat records.) In comparison, temperatures during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were about 10 degrees C (18 F) warmer than preindustrial averages, or about 25 degrees C (45 F) compared with today's 16 degrees C (29 F), Marshall said. Yet life was quite abundant at that time, he told Live Science. "It would be a habitable but rather different world," he said. "We'll run out of fossil fuels before we evaporate the oceans away." So humans probably won't manage to actually bake themselves in an oven made of greenhouse gases, though tropical areas may become too hot for habitation, Vincent said. The real question is whether humans would be able to handle the upheaval that climate change would bring as coastlines vanish, diseases spread and weather patterns change. "On its own, I don't see how climate change would lead to human extinction," Marshall said. "It would have to be through the social unrest triggering nuclear warfare, or some other societal implosion as a result of the environmental degradation." Already, there are warning signs beyond warming temperatures. About half of global wildlife has been wiped out over the past 50 years, Vincent said. The situation is serious enough that many scientists believe the planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. "Anyone who thinks we can solve these problems by colonizing other worlds has been watching too much 'Star Trek,'" Sterman said. "We must learn to live sustainably here, on the one planet we have, and there is no time to lose."


Moore D.,Global Footprint Network | Cranston G.,University of Bath | Reed A.,Global Footprint Network | Galli A.,Global Footprint Network
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2012

The Ecological Footprint measures human demand for ecological goods and services, converting various consumption activities into an area of world average bioproductive land measured in "global hectares". This may then be compared to an area that indicates the ability of Earth's ecosystems to support that consumption (biocapacity). Ecological Footprint analyses have generally focused on past and present levels of impact, as the Footprint is not in itself a predictive tool. However, it is equally possible to conduct an Ecological Footprint analysis from projections of future ecosystem productivity and consumption levels. Here we use a Footprint Scenario Calculator to convert projected consumption and emission quantities into Ecological Footprint and biocapacity trends up to 2050. This Calculator uses a variety of parameters as input, ranging from food demand to CO 2 emissions. Both baseline projections and alternative scenarios have been built and compared to assess the possible effects of various courses of action. We found that, under widely accepted consumption projections, by 2050 humanity will be using resources and producing wastes at 2.6 times the rate at which they can be renewed or sequestered. The simplistic analysis performed here has the potential to educate and illustrate potential inconsistencies in the various demand projections performed by organizations. However, to have relevance at a national level, more sophisticated models are required. The most likely framework for such models is based upon Environmentally Extended Input Output analyses; these models have huge potential if true dynamism with bi-directional environment-economy links are quantified and incorporated. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | October 29, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Rising human activity is destroying global vertebrate wildlife populations, which have seen a 58 percent drop in the last 40 years, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report titled "Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and Resilience in a New Era" scanned the population decline in wildlife between 1970 and 2012. Covering 14,000 vertebrate populations of 3,700 species during the period, the report also took inputs from the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network. Slamming the rising human activity as responsible for the declining numbers, the WWF report warns that wildlife populations will drop further by two-thirds in 2020 unless immediate intervention is made. The report notes the drastic decline in the numbers reported in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The most palpable drop in animal population has been in the lakes, rivers and freshwater systems by 81 percent. Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF, says the report offers a wake-up call that for a considerable number of years, humans have treated Earth "as if it's disposable." "We created this problem," adds Roberts. "The good news is that we can fix it. It requires updating our approach to food, energy, transportation, and how we live our lives. We share the same planet. We rely on it for our survival. So we are all responsible for its protection." The WWF report looks at human activity as an all-pervasive term denoting habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change. "It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on," says Mike Barrett, head of science and policy at WWF. According to the WWF report, increasing demand for food and energy is augmenting threats to wildlife and indirectly hurting human life as well. Blaming rising global food production as the primary cause for destroying habitats and overexploitating wildlife, the report notes that agriculture has taken up one-third of Earth's land area and is consuming 70 percent of all freshwater. This is not only driving animals to doom but is also hurting humanity indirectly, as the invasion of natural resources goes unabated. Calling a rethink on the part of individuals, businesses and governments in terms of production and consumption, the report asks for a systemic change whereby a higher value can be attached to the natural environment. WWF's Living Planet Report is a biennial exercise that serves as an assessment of the state of the world's wildlife. It studies thousands of species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, forming 6 percent of the total vertebrate species in the world. The data used in the research includes peer-reviewed studies, statistics from the government and surveys by NGOs. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | October 24, 2016
Site: globenewswire.com

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and resilience in a new era is World Wildlife Fund's biennial state-of-the-planet analysis, tracking more than 14,000 vertebrate populations of over 3,700 species from 1970 to 2012. The report identifies population trends over time for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine vertebrates, explaining both causes and effects. The report also looks at the scale and impact of human activity on the planet, and posits solutions for protecting life and reversing negative trends. The report includes research from the Global Footprint Network and the Zoological Society of London. Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and resilience in a new era will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8:01 PM EDT (Thursday, Oct. 27 at 12:01 GMT). Reporters can request an embargoed copy by contacting Lorin Hancock at Lorin.Hancock@WWFUS.org.


WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - October 26, 2016) - Global populations of vertebrates -- mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish -- have declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, states a new report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Animals living in the world's lakes, rivers, and freshwater systems have experienced the most dramatic population declines, at 81 percent. Because of human activity, the report states that without immediate intervention global wildlife populations could drop two-thirds by 2020. "This research delivers a wake-up call that for decades we've treated our planet as if it's disposable," said Carter Roberts, WWF president and CEO. "We created this problem. The good news is that we can fix it. It requires updating our approach to food, energy, transportation, and how we live our lives. We share the same planet. We rely on it for our survival. So we are all responsible for its protection." The top threat to wildlife is habitat loss and degradation, driven primarily by increasing demand for food and energy. According to the report, global food production is the leading cause for destruction of habitats and overexploitation of wildlife. Agriculture currently occupies approximately one-third of Earth's total land area and accounts for 70 percent of all freshwater use. Wild animals are not the only ones at risk; the report states that increased pressure threatens the natural resources that all life -- including humanity -- depend on. The report demonstrates the need to rethink how we produce, consume, measure success and value the natural environment, and calls for an urgent system change by individuals, businesses and governments. The report also illustrates the positive momentum that is building by highlighting recent global agreements on climate change and sustainable development. In particular, the report recognizes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an essential guide to decision-making that can ensure that the environment is valued alongside economic and social interests. "A strong natural environment is the key to defeating poverty, improving health and developing a just and prosperous future," said Marco Lambertini, WWF director general. "We have proven that we know what it takes to build a resilient planet for future generations, we just need to act on that knowledge." Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and resilience in a new era is the eleventh edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication. The report tracks over 14,000 vertebrate populations of over 3,700 species from 1970 to 2012 and includes research from the Global Footprint Network and the Zoological Society of London. About World Wildlife Fund WWF is one of the world's leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more and keep up with the latest conservation news by following @WWFNews on Twitter.


Galli A.,Global Footprint Network | Kitzes J.,University of California at Berkeley | Niccolucci V.,University of Siena | Wackernagel M.,Global Footprint Network | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2012

In a world increasingly affected by global environmental changes, Low Income countries will play an ever more central role in determining the future health of the biosphere. While global use of the biosphere's capacity has increased over the past 45 years, per capita demand for biocapacity, as measured by the Ecological Footprint, has only increased in high-income countries and has remained constant or fallen in middle- and low-income nations. Consumption has increased faster than population in high-income nations, while population growth has been the dominant factor in middle- and low- income countries. Although listed in the middle-income group of countries, China showed atypical trends in the past 45 years, with a rapid increase in per capita Ecological Footprint that outstrip its gains in income. Typical trends were instead noticed for India, whose per person Ecological Footprint has fallen slightly. The results of this paper show that decisions made in China and India will be of fundamental importance for future global sustainability. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Goldfinger S.,Global Footprint Network | Wackernagel M.,Global Footprint Network | Galli A.,Global Footprint Network | Lazarus E.,Global Footprint Network | Lin D.,Global Footprint Network
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2014

The Ecological Footprint is a resource accounting tool that tracks human demand on the Earth's biological resource flows, and compares it with the Earth's capacity to generate these same flows. Critical discussion of Ecological Footprint accounting contributes to the ongoing development of its methodology, comprehensibility and policy relevance as a science-based metric. Giampietro and Saltelli's recent critical article provides an opportunity to address some fundamental misunderstandings about the metric, including the research question it seeks to address, the methodology used to calculate Footprint and biocapacity results, and what the results do and do not imply. Contrary to their criticisms, it is shown that the Footprint reflects the productivity of actual rather than hypothetical ecosystems, does not claim to be a comprehensive measure of sustainability, and is not prescriptive about trade practices nor any other policy decisions, including how to respond to the finding that the world is in ecological overshoot. Despite acknowledged current limitations of Ecological Footprint accounting, including that the calculation methodology, in exercising scientific caution, might somewhat underestimate the challenge facing humanity, Giampietro and Saltelli's criticism that the results are reassuring and encourage complacency appears to be unwarranted. In addition, it is argued that the continued refinement of the metric as new scientific findings and improved data sets become available is not, as Giampietro and Saltelli suggest, a liability of the measure, but instead a strength that increases both its value as an indicator of the magnitude of human pressure on global ecosystems, and its policy relevance. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Wackernagel M.,Global Footprint Network | Lazarus E.,Global Footprint Network
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

In October 2010, world leaders gathered in Nagoya, Japan, for the CBD COP10 and agreed on the adoption of new biodiversity targets and new indicators for the period 2011-2020. This represents a positive development. But given the previous failure in achieving the 2010 biodiversity targets, new approaches to implementation as well as relevant measuring and monitoring systems are needed, for this renewed effort to have lasting success in preserving biodiversity. The need to adopt a comprehensive approach in monitoring biodiversity clearly emerged and it can be seen in the five strategic goals within which the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity targets are classified. Among them, is the strategic goal A, which aims to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society. The aim of this paper is to describe the role of the Ecological Footprint in tracking human-induced pressures on biodiversity thus providing a synthesis of how the Ecological Footprint tool can contribute to the advancement of conservation science. Information is provided on the main features of the Footprint indicator and its dataset, the ongoing work to improve the methodology as well as the geographical (more than 150 countries covered) and temporal coverage (a period of almost five decades) of the Ecological Footprint accounting tool. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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