The Ecological Footprints of the World

(1) The planet Earth

The planet earth has within it large amounts of natural resources that have been used by countries across the entire world for billions of years. Each country has utilized these resources in varying amounts. Today, there is major concern for each country’s conservation of these extremely important resources. Some of the countries usage of the resources is moderate in order to preserve the decreasing amounts, however other countries usages are ever-increasing. Scientists have begun to calculate each country’s ecological footprints, which Withgott and Brennan (2) state are “the cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person or population consumes and to dispose of or recycle the waste that is produced (p.5)” in order to understand how much of the earth’s resources each country is using. Scientists have discovered that there is a certain amount of resources that can be allotted for each person, however have calculated that each person is using more than they should be, which presents a risk for the entire world! Some country’s inhabitants are overshooting their own individual limits. Overshooting, is the amount that the world’s inhabitants are going over the planet’s own resource usage and carrying capacity in order to sustain life. Carrying capacity also defined by Withgott and Brennan (2) is “the maximum population that an environment can sustain (p. 6).” The questions below reflect the chart created to compare each country’s ecological footprints. Through examining the chart we are able to see the differences in each country’s usage and also understand some of the reasons for these differences.

(3) Chart reflected on above

Bangladesh’s Ecological Footprint Compared to Australia and The United Arab Emirates

Countries that are less developed such as Bangladesh have a lower ecological footprint compared to more developed countries such as Australia. Bangladesh also does not have a very large Gross Domestic Product. Their Gross Domestic Product is very small as many inhabitants are poor, many don’t have the abilities to eat large sums of food or use vast amounts of technology. It is because of these factors that many less developed countries use less of the earth’s natural resources. Australia’s ecological footprint is 7.7 almost 13 times the size of Bangladesh’s. The reasons for this are numerous. Australia is a very wealthy and technologically advanced country. Many of its inhabitants require large amounts of food and energy in order to be sustained.  Pollution from traffic, water usage energy production and goods and services all contribute to the country’s footprint size. The United Arab Emirates has an EF of 9.9, the largest of all the countries within the chart. The reasons for this could also be based on the amount of people, the technological usage and the amount of food consumed. The inhabitants could do more traveling, use more energy for household necessities such as air conditioning and water usage, they could also not practice many of the techniques that can be used to preserve the resources such as recycling. Each individual’s necessities and usage of these resources is incredible, we do not realize the vast amount of resources that we use each day wastefully.

Does Gross Domestic Product have an effect on a Country’s Ecological Footprint?

It is evident that the countries with larger gross domestic product have a greater ecological footprint. Many of the countries that have a high GDP are wealthier and therefore have the means to produce greater amounts of food, technology, and energy amongst many other factors. Countries with lower GDP’s are not as wealthy, and are not as developed as most countries. These countries do not require the same amounts of resources. Many inhabitants within these countries do not produce mass quantities of food amongst other popular commodities produced in the United States. Also as discussed in the book (2) countries with higher pollution rates have a larger GDP. The aftermath of events such as hurricanes and pollution cleanups require a great amount of goods and services, which raise a country’s GDP (p.157).

(4) Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the cleanup increased US GDP.

My Own Ecological Footprint in Comparison with Other Countries: Ways in Which the US is Wasting Resources

After calculating my own personal footprint I realized what an enormous and sickening amount of resources are used everyday. My own footprint was 5.12, which is astronomical! We truly do not realize the amount of waste that we use and the effects on the resources of the environment. Compared to my own country this footprint is considered average, which is also very concerning. The inhabitants of the United States use large amounts of resources wastefully. My footprint is massive in comparison to an individual’s footprint in Bangladesh. An individual’s footprint is about four times smaller than my own. Compared to Canada my footprint is also average. Canada is very well-developed and as a result of this individuals are again acting wastefully. My footprint compared to Thailand is also very large. The inhabitants of the United States everyday use a great amount of carbon through air-conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. Food is served in large wasteful portions; supermarkets are filled with crops and meat, which require the use of large amounts of land. Water is sold in enormous amounts at the stores, and is also used in homes everyday. US citizens usually live in large apartment complexes or in individual houses, which require electricity, heating, and gas in order to function. US citizens also purchase vast amounts of commodities. Clothing and technological devices are in high demand and require many resources to produce. Places such as hospitals, independent business offices and restaurants are also very popular in America, and other countries. These services use large amounts of resources. Countries such as Thailand and Bangladesh have different living situations, food consumption rates and goods and services. They do not produce the mass amounts of food that countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia produce, or use the same amounts of goods and services, which prove to be extremely wasteful.

Through examining the chart and comparing the different countries ecological footprints and GDP it is evident how much of an impact each country has on the earth as a whole. By examining my own ecological footprint I was able to see the vast amount of resources that I am using in my daily life. It is important that we be conscious of the resources used and that we find ways to conserve and preserve the natural resources of our earth. If we continue to use the resources in the same way, we will all face severe consequences.

References

1.http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2084/2222523486_5e1894e314.jpg

2. Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. 4th Edition. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

3.  Globalis – Indicator.” Indicator: GDP per capita – 2002. Global Virtual University , n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2011. <globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator.cfm?IndicatorID=19&country=BD%20/%20rowBD>.

4.  http://devrese.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/oil_spill_Gulf_mexico1.jpg

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