Monday, September 10, 2007

My household ecological footprint (approx!)

My three person household’s ecological footprint is between 1.82 – 2.90 global hectares (comparable national average = 5.3 according to and carbon footprint between 4.20 and 7.64 tonnes per yr (10.22 = national average), according to various rough estimation methods available online (details below). Not bad at all given that the lowest figure I could find was 2.56 global hectares for the Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland (though note that since the methodologies and degrees of accuracy vary any comparison should be very cautious). See WWF and Wikpedia for decent background on fooprinting issues.

For various reasons I am putting together a more accurate and detailed household/personal footprint document, (with results put into context via use of a consistent method) and will make it available through a link on this site soon. By far the biggest footprints are found in the northern hemisphere and especially in the west – strikingly illustrated by this map, which expands/contracts a country’s land area according to footprint. The planet entered ecological debt in the 1980’s.

There’s an awful lot of talk theses days about our footprint, usually ‘carbon footprint’ (tonnes of carbon emitted per yr) and sometimes ecological or environmental footprint (land area needed to sustain a lifestyle) as a measure of human impact on our planet. I spend a lot of time with my environmental science and technology students discussing and calculating footprints eg using the Ecocal computer model developed by Best Foot Forward Ltd following the work of Chambers, Simmons, and Wackernagel (reported in the book Sharing Nature’s Interest for instance).

Having spent the last seven years annually measuring my own ecological footprint when my students were doing theirs I recently took an interest in the carbon footprint application available through Facebook, curious to see how the rough estimate compared with the more detailed calculations I’d been doing at work. - ‘carbon footprint’ application available through Facebook gave an estimated figure of 4.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per yr for my 3 person household (1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per yr).

This figure seemed a bit low (my own estimate is 5 tonnes, or 1.7 tonnes per person per yr – about half the national average of 10.22 tonnes given on the website), so I decided to trawl around online, trying out some of the many sites available for both carbon and ecological footprint estimation. - rough estimate of annual eco- footprint = 2.9 global hectares (4.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide per yr) ie 0.97 hectares per person (1.57 tonnes carbon dioxide per person). - 2.8 global hectares (compared to a national average of 5.3). - 2.21 hectares (needing 1 x UK – great since we do only have one!!). - 1.82 hectares – below the UK average, according to this site - (6.62 tonnes of carbon). - 7.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide (10.22 national average).

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