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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

our shoe size...True Cost Economics: Ecological Footprint

An ecological footprint is the amount of productive land area required to sustain one human being. Globally, there are about 1.9 hectares of productive area per person, but the average ecological footprint is already 2.3 hectares. So we would need 1.5 Earths to live sustainably. The largest footprint belongs to citizens of the US, at 9.57 hectares. Five Earths would be needed if everyone in the world consumed at that rate. People in Bangladesh, on the other hand, need just 0.5 hectares. And China is somewhere in the middle, at 1.36 hectares.

But what will it look like in a few decades, when China has a population of 1.5 billion? Supposing that Chinese levels of consumption then are equivalent to American levels now, the Earth doesn’t stand a chance. If the US provides the benchmark for global consumption, 25 Earths will be needed to satiate everyone’s wants.

Calculate your own personal ecological footprint: