[The starry background is to remind us that this spaceship Earth has no emergency exit.]
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Footprint update January 2011
[ back to "urgency" retour à "urgence" zurück zu "Dringlichkeit"]

This is a brief critique of the Globalfootprintnetwork's "Ecological Footprint update 3/2010".

ecoglobe considers the WWF-Globalfootprintnetwork's so-called "Ecological Footprint" (EF) as a statistical exercise that is detrimental to the efforts to get back to sustainable humanity.
The EF has serious scientific flaws, it is mostly cited in an incorrect way, it leads people to believe our situation is less serious than it actually is, it leads functionaries to statistical EF exercises, and thus it does not lead to the necessary reduction of our environmental footprint.
Moreover, the main promotor - WWF - is simultaneously supporting the suicidal ideology of further growth, "sustainable, "green", dematerialised", "different" - an abberation designed by economists.
Therefore we formulate our critique as follows.
[The Global Footprintnetwork page was downloaded 2 January 2011 from www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/.
The EF text is hereafter in black font.]

World Footprint

The title should be: "Humanity's footprint on the world", or similar.

Do we fit on the planet?

Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. [No number of planets can compensate for the depletion of non-renewable resources, the destruction of nature and the extinction of species. Footprintnetwork's calculations do not include non-renewables, only a token value for fossil fuels and nuclear. Fertile soils eroded and degraded are not being regenerated in any useful time period. The same counts for fossil water, climate change. Destroyed habitats and extinct species cannot be regenerated. The planet does not "absorbe our waste". Many of our wastes are poisoning chemicals that stay around for a long time, meanwhile debilitating and killing humans and other lives. ]
This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. [The earth does not "regenerate" resources that we deplete, nor does it sufficiently break down the poisoneous chemicals.]

Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one. [UN scenarios are based on the same models and therefore wrong.]

Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend. [Wastes are not "turned back in resources." Only biological detritus that are left to decompose naturally, not burned or otherwise used for our industries, are recycled by nature.]

[This footprintnetwork graph is fallacious in many aspects. The overshoot is far too low. Overshoot started far earlier, i.e. at the beginning of modernity - around 1750 . It does not represent non-renewables. The time frame is far to long because it does not consider the probable effects of the impending post-peak-petrol era. It conjures the whole earth together in one figure, whereas overshoot and depletion are local and cannot be compensated by actions in other regions. ]

The result is collapsing fisheries, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and the build up of carbon dioxide emissions, which creates problems like global climate change. These are just a few of the most noticeable effects of overshoot. [And destroying natural habitats, reducing biodiversity, depleting fossil water, degrading fertile soils, depleting minerals and fossil fuels.]

Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies—and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else. [We, the rich, will not be able to "buy our way out." Money cannot recreate what we have depleted and destroyed, nor protect us against the effects of resource depletion and climate change.]

Ending Overshoot

The Earth provides all that we need to live and thrive. So what will it take for humanity to live within the means of one planet?

Individuals and institutions worldwide must begin to recognize ecological limits. We must begin to make ecological limits central to our decision-making and use human ingenuity to find new ways to live, within the Earth’s bounds. [We must stop growth and start contraction!]

This means investing in technology and infrastructure that will allow us to operate in a resource-constrained world.[Technology is the magic word for Business As Usual. But technology can't deal with a level of resource use that is far too high, much higher than the 9 times that the EF calculates for the USA. Infrastructure won't bring salvation neither. after Peak-Oil, our high-speed and mass transportation system can no longer be maintained. We'll have to relocalise and slow down dramatically.] It means taking individual action, and creating the public demand for businesses and policy makers to participate. [This places the burden on the individual. The people in power, who also control the media, have to abolish their growth paradigm in the first place. The public cannot ask for change as long as they are being misled by the power elites.

Using tools like the Ecological Footprint to manage our ecological assets is essential for humanity’s survival and success. Knowing how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what is the first step, and will allow us to track our progress as we work toward our goal of sustainable, one-planet living. The EF is not a "toolkit" to "manage our ecological assets." Nature are not "assets". The EF calculations do not create change, as far as we can see. WWF is still a partner in the growth ideology. The EF calculations provide do-good feelings with the functionaries, whilst growth remains their policy.

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