ACCORDING TO THE EF, IS THE HUMAN POPULATION LIVING AT, BEYOND OR BELOW THE EARTH’S NATURAL BIOCAPACITY? FOR HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN THE CASE? IS THIS SUSTAINABLE?
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Due date: On or before 11 a.m. Friday, November 18, 2016.
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Ecological Footprint (EF)
The Ecological footprint (EF) measures how much of the regenerative capacity of the biosphere is used up by human activities. It is the sum of productive land and water area required to support the population and provide the resources it consumes, absorb its waste and provide infrastructure (Stiglitz et al., 2009, p. 244, http://www.insee.fr/fr/publications-et-services/default.asp?page=dossiers_web/stiglitz/documentscommission.htm). Biocapacity is a measure showing the capacity of biosphere to regenerate and provide for life. More detailed definitions are given on page 5.
Figure 1: Humanity’s ecological footprint by component 1961-2012
Figure 2: Ecological footprint and Biocapacity per capita 1961-2012
Figure 3: United States of America: Ecological footprint and Biocapacity per capita 1961-2012
1. According to the EF, is the human population living at, beyond or below the Earth’s natural biocapacity? For how long has this been the case? Is this sustainable?
2. According to the EF, is the US population living at, beyond or below USA’s natural biocapacity? For how long has this been the case? Is this sustainable?
3. If you assume that EF grows at a constant yearly rate, what is the approximate slope of the EF relationship with time for USA? And what is its units? Give the equation of, and sketch this line, with EF on the vertical axis and year on the horizontal axis. (EF for 2012 is 8.2 and for 1961 was approximately 8.1).
4. If you assume that biocapacity grows at a constant yearly rate, what is the approximate slope of the biocapacity relationship with time for USA? And what is its units? Give the equation of, and sketch this line, with biocapacity on the vertical axis and year on the horizontal axis. (biocapacity for 2012 is 3.8 and for 1961 was approximately 5.2).
5. If this trend continues, what will EF and biocapacity be in 2050? (Hint: use your equation from questions 3 and 4.) What will biocapacity minus EF be in 2050? Will there be a deficit or reserve?
6. Use the data presented in Figure 1 to suggest a policy to make land use sustainable.
Definitions: Source: Global Footprint Network
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