Our modern lifestyle has given us a lot of luxuries like flowing water, electricity and concrete housing. But have you ever wondered how these daily utilities affect the environment? How can we quantify this impact? We human have defined the face of the earth in recent time and have had the most impact on our environment than any other animal on this planet. And not all of it is positive. But what we use plentifully today, might be scarce tomorrow. With a rising population, we are putting tremendous pressure on the resources provided by mother earth, and nature is clearly struggling to keep up. Climate change is very much real and only we can control it.
The choices we make greatly impact those around us. So how can we make these sensible choices when it comes to our environment?
Well, we first need to understand what the environmental implications are of the lifestyle that we living. And that is calculated by our Ecological Footprint. It estimates the number of natural resources required to sustain a certain lifestyle. Global hectares (gha) is the unit used to measure the productive land that can sustain a population and takes into account all the resources that are utilized by a person including land, water, fuel and the food consumed. This also brings in the concept of Biocapacity. Now, biocapacity is the environment’s ability to generate resources and recycle waste in a sustainable way. Some ecosystem has a large capacity to sustain a biological population for a considerable amount of time. The problem arises when the ecological footprint of land exceeds its biocapacity and negative stress is generated on the environment. Thus by considering all of the above factors the Ecological Footprint of a person, population or a nation can be determined. Now, it must be noted that a Carbon footprint is a slightly different concept and is used to determine the amount of greenhouse gas emission caused by an individual. Both these parameters are similar and signify the impact we have on our environment.
Now, give it a thought…. How often do you use a car? Do you use public transport? What is the amount of fresh, unpackaged, unprocessed produce you eat every day? How often do you consume meat, fish and dairy? Do you bathe using a shower or do you only use a bucket of water?
And most importantly, how often do you make a conscious effort to make an environmentally sound choice?
All of these questions might sound simple, and quite frankly silly but these are factors that determine how we affect the environment. There are various sites online that allow us to ‘calculate’ our ecological footprint and its implications, and this can be the first step that we take towards a better environment. Accepting the fact that we need to change our habits and make choices that benefit us as well as the environment. We read about rivers running white with toxic foam because of the pollutants released in them and helpless little sea turtles with straws up their noses and struggling to breathe, but it is up to us to change this situation. So let us all work together and leave behind a footprint our future generations can proudly follow.
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