The Ecological Footprint is a complex indicator which is increasingly being used to measure sustainability. The idea behind it is quite simple: does the Earth have enough resources to sustain our consumption and to regenerate our waste? To answer these questions, a method has been developed to translate a community’s consumption and production of waste into a common unit of measure, called “biologically productive area” (BPA).
For instance, it has been estimated that one needs 0.147 hectares of BPA (“global hectares”) to produce a litre of milk. If one goes on his/her own for a 100-kmtrip, it has been estimated that s/he consumes 0.044 hectares of BPA if s/he travels by bus, or 0.214 if s/he travels by car, and so on. (Various conversion methods have been proposed, so if you do a search on the internet, you’re very likely to find different values.)

That said,what are the findings? (2003 data available here)
  1. The ecological footprint of the United Arab Emirates has become bigger than that of the United States (11.9 global hectares per person versus 9.6). This means that, if everybody lived like the average citizen from the UAE, we would need 6.6 planets to sustain our consumption (it has been estimated that there exist 1.8 global hectares per person).
  2. The State with the lowest ecological footprint is Afghanistan (0.1 global hectares per person).
  3. The world average ecological footprint is 2.2 global hectares/person. This means that we would need 1.2 Earths to support our lifestyle.
This method has been criticised because of some of its assumptions (see for instance some limitations here); however, it does provide a clear picture of current world imbalances in the exploitation of natural resources.
If you want to get a (very rough) idea about your personal ecological footprint, you can try this test .
For the records: my ecological footprint is 2.0, which is pretty good compared to that of my country (4.2 in 2003) … but that’s not enough! If everyone lived like me, we would still need 1.1 planets.Emotion: sad
Do you feel like posting your results?
1 2
I'm a horrible person! Emotion: crying

My total footprint was 2.7 - Spain is worse than Italy (4.7) Emotion: surprise

The site said I we would need 1.5 planets if everyone lived like me..I'm getting depressed now.

(missing image)

Hi Pucca,

Thanks for posting your results!
No need to get depressed, this should "only" be a spur to rethinking our lifestyle and reducing our consumption. Emotion: wink

As for Spain, 4.7 is an old estimate ... The most recent one, that of 2003, is 5.4.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
LoL, 5.4 is even worse than 4.7, much worse!
wow I wasn't expecting that mine was 3 now, I tried the test one year ago and the result was a lower number Emotion: crying
I feel depressed
Francescawow I wasn't expecting that mine was 3 now, I tried the test one year ago and the result was a lower number
I feel depressed
Hi Francesca
Will it make you feel any better if I tell you that my footprint is 9.7?Emotion: embarrassed
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Hi CoolBreeze, actually I wouldn't like to let you down but ... yes it makes me feel better Emotion: big smile
Anyway I reached the 3 because of the food, it seems that meat twice a week is good for a dietician, but not for an ecologist. Being myself an ecologist always on diet I wouldn't know what to do Emotion: stick out tongue.
I had a score of 1,1 in "food", what was your maximum score?
Wow, I am happy that my 3,2 score is not the worstEmotion: big smile To be honest, after reading Tanit's and Pucca's score, I was afraid to post mineEmotion: embarrassed
Anyway, does anybody know where can I rent that area of 0,8 of Earth surface? Is Mars or Moon still free?[:^)]
FrancescaI had a score of 1,1 in "food", what was your maximum score?
I don't remember the details, sorry. Anyway, I am sure there are people whose score is way above 10 and who therefore refrain from posting their scores here.Emotion: big smile
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