Total Ecological Footprint

Section
5. Reduce Population
Page
5.2

In Section 2, ‘Consumption’, we displayed the global footprint of countries divided by population so as to concentrate upon consumption only. This was useful to highlight the predominance of consumption and overconsumption by the First World. But, as mentioned in 5.1, this is only part of the picture and a truer representation of total footprint, or impact, can be presented only if population is taken into account.

(Global Footprint Network. 2021. Total Ecological Footprint [‘impact’] by Country. The darker the colour, the greater the impact/footprint. Open Data Platform (footprintnetwork.org))
The map now shows not only First World countries where consumption is generally the major cause of impact, but developing countries, as well – where population is often the major cause – and countries somewhere in-between, like Russia and Brazil and Indonesia, where elements of both are in play.

I have not the slightest interest in finger-pointing and blame-shifting because if the footprint map shows anything it is that we are all in this together and we will all have to contribute, individually, nationally, internationally, if we are to achieve a worthwhile future. Whether this contribution will primarily be reducing consumption and a far more equitable sharing of resources, or measures to reduce population, or cessation of damaging technologies, will depend on a country’s or individual’s circumstances and opportunities, but all, at every scale, can and must make a contribution if we are to reduce, and then eliminate, the ecological deficit we have been running since 1970 (see below).

 

Global Footprint Network. 2021. National Footprint and Bio-capacity Accounts)

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5.1 Introduction

This was the top of Mt Everest in 2019. Even here, in one of the remotest, most difficult places on earth, there is a great traffic-jam of people jostling for position. And yet, ever more vociferously, we deny that overpopulation is a problem for ...

5.2 Total Ecological Footprint

In Section 2, ‘Consumption’, we displayed the global footprint of countries divided by population so as to concentrate upon consumption only. This was useful to highlight the predominance of consumption and overconsumption by the First World. But,...

5.3 Earth Overshoot Day, The Population Podcast, William Rees

William Rees is a terrific speaker: clear, concise, honest. The following podcast is one of my all-time favourites because it so crisply dissects the environmental problems of the world and logically lays out the foundations and process of Ecologi...

5.4 Scale

I have talked previously about the problem of sheer scale when dealing with environmental issues, and perhaps the greatest example of this is population. We seem to have difficulty coming to grips with any large numbers, anything bigger than, say,...

5.5 Population Films and Documentaries

Dave Gardner is the perfect heretic: softly-spoken, mild-mannered, unflappable, and with a sense of humour, very hard to demonise and marginalise as ‘crazy’, ‘eccentric’, ‘dangerous’, ‘racist’, or ‘anti-people’. Heretics are, at best, dismissed, a...

5.6 Population Projections and Biocapacity

One of the many ways in which a concern about population is shutdown is through the curious application of declining-growth-rate projections. Even before this spurious argument is applied, the glaring assumption is that current population is not a...

5.7 A Possible Target

As mentioned previously, global biocapacity was exceeded at around 3.7 billion people at 1970s technology and consumption levels, but this didn’t account for the needs of other creatures, so an actual sustainable level for all life would have to b...

5.8 The Ageing Population Bogeyman

If Growth is the god and the economy/capitalism the religion, then the human is nothing but a widget in the system whose sole role is to procreate, produce and consume. In such a mean and tortured belief system, those towards the start and end of ...

5.9 Population Case Study: Australia

I am wary of saying more about my home country as I have vowed to try to be as global in outlook as possible, but I hope I can be forgiven in this instance because I think the information is good and the example is very relevant to much that is ha...

5.10 Solutions

We listened to Chris Tucker’s interesting podcast #57 in webpage 5.7 where he talked about the overall population issue and a potentially sustainable population for the world. In this, the second part, #58, he elaborates on ways to get there. My n...

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1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship 1.1 Articles 1.2 Art Installations 1.3 Books 1.4 Buildings 1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts 1.6 Music 1.7 Paintings 1.8 Photographs 1.9 Poems 1.10 Spiritual Responses
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1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship

This section is designed to foster appreciation and insight that will – hopefully – lead to novel ways to build a better relationship between human beings and Nature. This section is also atypical ...
2. Reduce Consumption
2. Reduce Consumption

2. Reduce Consumption

I hope Reneé Descartes would forgive us for saying that, at least for the modern world, he was wrong.  When, in 1637, he said: “I think, therefore I am”, he could not have anticipated that the majo...
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

In a supposedly secular age there has arisen a global religion and god like never before, a religion whose reach and power makes every other belief system before it seem pitiful and insignificant: ...
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

What we do in our day-to-day lives can have great impact. Section Four divides up these actions into three groups – Work (4.2 & 4.3), Volunteering (4.4), and Action, e.g. voting, protesting, et...
5. Reduce Population
5. Reduce Population

5. Reduce Population

Even on top of Mt. Everest, in one of the remotest, most difficult places on earth, there is a great traffic-jam of people jostling for position. And yet, ever more vociferously, we deny that overp...
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

The media is one of the three, great ‘poles’ of power in the world (alongside political and corporate power) and how they frame and present ‘the environment’ has a profound effect on how we respond...
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

New York is an exciting, mesmerising place. Human culture is extraordinary and often wonderful. Our powers of transformation of the natural world seem limitless. The trouble is, we don’t seem to be...
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

Our current energy largesse is an extraordinary ‘gift’, an unprecedented gift of the ages; millions of years to produce and from millions of years ago. Coal, oil and gas, forming...
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

Just as with the previous section – ‘Energy’ – which is, inescapably, all about fossil fuels so pre-eminent and extraordinary has been their dominance and transformation of the world in the last 20...
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

Section 10 will attempt to organise this enormous topic by addressing the context and status of pollution in 10.2, before focussing in on air pollution; particularly greenhouse gas pollution and cl...