Human beings alter the environment when humans utilize any natural resources. An ecological footprint measures how much “nature” it takes to support human beings (people) and or an economy (production, trade and exchange of goods and services, etc.). It is a measure of the biological impact humans have on the land and water while producing goods and providing services.
Calculating a Footprint
Ecological footprints can be determined for an individual, community, town, region, country, and planet Earth. There is a “cost” to produce goods and provide services.
Examples of questions or criteria that are used to calculate an ecological footprint include the following:
1) How do you get around? Walking, driving, etc.
2) How often do you fly in an airplane?
3) How do you eat (Do you eat meat? Are you a vegetarian?
4) How often do you buy new clothes and other things?
5) Do you use renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) for heating your housing?
6) How long do you shower?
7) What temperature do you keep your housing at in the winter?
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Individuals and Corporations
Some individuals or companies have a much bigger footprint or impact they will leave on the environment than others. We can compare and even calculate the impact a person has. Look at these two scenarios as examples: Person A. lives in an apartment, bikes to work and eat a vegetarian diet and Person B has a very large house, drives a large car a long way to work and eats a mostly red meat based diet. These two people would have a very different lasting impact on the world around them. However an individual's impact will be small compared to a corporation’s. Some very large corporations are responsible for massive amounts of CO2 production, plastic pollution, deforestation, and water usage among other environmental impacts.
🎥 Watch: AP Environmental Science - Sustainability