Footprint Assignment

One footprint, one large impact The latest official world population estimates the current population, for mid-year 2009, at approximately 6,790,062,219 (Rosenberg, 2009). From now until the middle of the 21st century, in only fifty years, the world’s population will increase by 50% from 6 billion at the end of 1999 to close to 9 billion in 2050 ( McCann,2009). That is a lot of mouths to feed, water to drink and land to occupy.

As a result of human indulgences we tend to use a lot more than what we need, which in turn is reducing the number of individuals the earth can support. However with technology today humankind has stretched out the earth’s carrying capacity for us by manipulating the growth of plants and animals in order to grow our own ‘un natural’ resources. The earth’s carrying capacity refers to the maximal population the earth can support, earths carrying capacity is debated amongst many scientists.

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Sustainability refers to the capacity of the biosphere (the sum of all ecosystems which includes all life forms on earth) to provide for the full range of human concerns in the long term, without interruption or loss of valued qualities; sustainability is necessary for a population to be at or below any carrying capacity, where the current generation has the ability to pass on its natural wealth not unchanged, but undiminished in potential to support future generations (Ehrlich, 1992).

Thus the carrying capacity for humankind does vary with the level of economic development . If a population of any species including humankind grow exponentially for too long it will eventually become to large for the environment to support and with that will come consequences. For example, as a species becomes over populated, natural resources become less available (such as food, water, shelter etc). Earth and all resources within are not indefinite. There is only a definite amount of space, water and shelter beyond that there is nothing.

Along with that, degradation of the environment from an excessive amount of consumption of food and water and use of resources until there is nothing left and there for a population will decease. Already there are many areas around the world that can not sustain human populations, resulting in poverty, disease, crime, war, economic instability starvation and misery. Nature has a way of regulating the size of population of all species in prevention of population numbers exceeding what the environment can support.

A form of regulation comes through density independent factors like natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, fires etc. where a population will be effected and reduced in numbers. Another way of regulation of population is dependent factors where regulation is dependent on the population size, including competition for resources where there is a dense amount of individuals in an area where individuals compete for a limited amount of resources such as food, water and shelter.

Because resources are not infinite the resources will eventually run out resulting in more deaths. Thus, reducing the numbers of a population. Human population is not excluded from nature’s laws, for example, humans removed from situations of food shortages, weather and disease they too will increase in population size. Humanity relies on what nature can provide in order to live sustainably and each human requires resources from the planet and in turn, contributes waste and destruction to the environment.

Virtually all ecosystems have been negatively affected through human activities. Human activities have largely contributed to the world’s arable rate of land loss. A big concern is land degradation due to urbanization and deforestation where land is being cleared housing, industrial and for agriculture land grazing, crops and production. Deforestation not only causes desertification, it has devastating affects on the worlds species, which contain over 60 percent of the worlds biodiversity (world rainforest movement, 1998).

As forests are destroyed, so are the large numbers of species that once inhabited our forests, consequently leading to the extinction of species. Deforestation contributes to the worlds concerning issue of green house gas emissions; along with emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, which releases over 30 billion tons annually from supplying humans with electric power (Hopwood,n,d). This problem is serious, as the green house effect is warming our earth, scientists believe temperatures have already increased by approximately . 5 degrees (Hopwood, n, d).

If continued, effects will be extremely detrimental to our planet, with the increased of temperature and climate change will result in the suffering and death of species, and eventually sea levels will rise and become life threatening. Every human affects the environment in some measure; this is our individual foot print we require to sustain our lifestyle. The “ecological foot print” is the measure of pressure imposed by a given population on our planet and what it means for an individual to live sustainably throughout his or her lifetime.

Results represent the amount of earth’s surface necessary to sustain levels of resource consumption and waste discharge. This includes the land used for production of food (both plant and animal products), forest products and housing as well as the area required to absorb carbon dioxide produced by the combustion of fossil fuel (Hopwood,n,d ). The ecological footprint calculates a person’s average footprint, although it does not calculate the individual’s entire impact, it is only a representation of wastes that can be absorbed by the biosphere.

Individual results differ according to their own needs of sustainability. My individual ecological footprint on the planet is estimated to be 5 hectares. This is a considerable amount of land when acknowledging that the earth only has 8. 9 billion hectares of productive land, with the current population being approximately 6 billion, which suggests there is only 1. 5 hectares to sustain an individuals lifestyle (Rees,n,d). This suggests that my individual lifestyle is using an unsustainable share of the environment. My carbon ootprint was determined with results suggesting my carbon foot print contribute to 23% housing, 14% food, 9% services, 5% goods and 1% transportation. According to my results my main affects I have on the environment come from my carbon housing footprint, this is because there are large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions as a result of heating, cooling and lighting in everyone’s home. There are ways I can reduce this problem, rather than using the standard light globes that I use, I can buy energy saving globes and cut emissions from the use of lights.

Also because I have ducted heating and there is only one of me occupying my house, I really don’t need to be heating every room, I’m sure the use of the heater is what has increased my kWh usage. Also I could have shorter showers, as this would decrease the energy required to heat the water tank, less energy that would be required to go into the water treatment plants and at the same time it will help to preserve water. Being more water and energy conscious about using the washing machine with only a few items, will also decrease green house emissions.

We need food in order to survive, however the majority of us do not stop to think where the food has come from, we just it, just like myself, I didn’t realize how much every aspect that goes into production and transportation of what I eat and how it affects the environment. There is a difference between locally grown produce and overseas grown produce. Fuel is required for the transportation of all products, and depending on the distance, the effects will increase. Also fertilizers require large amounts of energy for production.

In order for me to reduce my carbon food footprint I can be more conscious about where my produce is grown, insuring that it is not an overseas product, as tonnes of fossil fuel is used in the transportation. Rather than buying chemically treated fruit and vegetables I can purchase organic (untreated produce) which will lessen the amount of energy going into the production process. With the increasing amounts of mouths to feed, comes more depletion of arable land due to large percentages being used for sheep and cattle grazing.

The fewer amounts of people consuming meat and more consuming vegetables, less land will be required. I can easily cut down on meat, to decrease my contribution to the destruction of our ecosystems. This would also be beneficial as cattle release methane gas into the atmosphere, adding to the warming of our plane. When buying dairy and meat products I can purchase products from local farms as they may have less impact than those from long distances involving more transportation. I tend to eat out a lot and never considered the amount of energy that goes into just the packaging of my food.

Results of my carbon food footprint made me realize that eating out does have an impact, that the production of not only the food and the transportation, which in many cases would be imported, but the energy that goes into the packaging right down to the plastic straws, it all increases the amount of green house gases produced. One big way I can reduce my foot print is to stop eating out as much and resort to natural, local, organic produce and when shopping, bring along my own biodegradable bag and reduce the amount of plastic products I purchase, including bottles and containers.

If the majority of us unconsciously eat the way we do, we would need plenty more planets to support all individuals, but we only have one planet, so it is important that people consider what they eat and where it comes from. I drive on a daily bases, driving a minimum of 800 km a month; this is a lot of fossil fuel being used. If I am to decrease my carbon footprint, I definitely need to cut this down. With all the cars on the road today contributing to the green house effect, some kind of measure needs to be taken. Instead of driving around the block to the shops, I can easily ride my bike or walk.

Rather than driving everyday to university, I can help decrease the amount of cars on the road, by sharing a car trip with others, or the best option, move closer and make a big difference. The earth cannot sustain human life indefinitely; the question is for how long. Earths carrying capacity is a debatable issue; some may say we are at, or near our carrying capacity and some will say the earth can sustain more lifestyles. However it is far too complicated to truly determine what the real limit it. Earths current population of 6. 7 billion people is currently destroying the planet by their large numbers.

The consumption of nature’s resources, and pollution that is destroying the earth. It is clear that humanity cannot live at the current population with the same lifestyles forever, without destroying what materials are left. In order for humankind to continue on, changes must be made before it is too late. Kevin McCann (2009).

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Footprint Assignment. (2018, Jul 27). Retrieved from