How the Ecological Accounting Tool Measures Ecological Footprint


The advancement of science has enabled scientists to design an ecological accounting tool based on science. The tool reports on-demand for a productive area, the total available amount of such an area, and the person demanding the productive area (Sengupta 92). Therefore, the science-based accounting tool is what defines ecological footprint. From the elements of the measure, an ecological footprint can be defined as the measure of the human demand of the natural Earth’s ecosystem and the amount of natural capital a person uses yearly. The calculator evaluates the geographical location where an individual lives, the kind of house one lives in, the size of the house, and the kind of bills paid, as well as the kind of electricity used (either renewable or non-renewable). Besides, the calculator considers the means of transport frequently used, the kind of foods eaten, the amounts of waste produced, and whether the wastes are recycled or otherwise.

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The scientific tool asked questions like what I eat, how I get to my place of work, how I heat my home and the kind of home I live in, among others. Among other results and what was more revealing to me was how a packet of fries that I took for lunch impacted the environment. First, the production of a few potatoes required some piece of land for production. After the production, some trucks required gasoline to transport the potatoes to California, where I reside. Therefore, some fraction of the energy used by the truck could be assigned to my pack of fries; about 22 lbs of carbon dioxide. Therefore, the portion of my fries contributed considerably towards adding to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When such was calculated on an annual scale, the results were quite shocking. Therefore, if I were to consume a pack of fries for lunch every day, the annual contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere could be approximately 8055 lbs. My estimated annual carbon footprint was 8.05 tons, and my ecological footprint was 4.17 global hectares. My efficiency optimism was rated at 0%, while the land for other species was given at 10%.

Changes to Observe

While the results above were obtained when I posed as a student living at the school, the results warrant a strategic measure to reduce the associated environmental impact. First, I should ensure that I produce what I consume to reduce the amount of energy required in transporting the produce from the farms to the school or city. Alternatively, I can ensure that I use such technology as solar power to transport the farm produce. Besides, instead of consuming such a meal for lunch, I can opt to take other foods that arguably contribute to low emissions levels in their processing chain. I also noted that if I opted to be walking or cycle as often as possible instead of using a car, then that could greatly improve my ecological footprint scores. Therefore, the results indicated if I were to observe such improved ways of living, I could contribute significantly to improving the ecosystem while at the same time living a healthier and quality life.

Implications on the Planet

If every human could observe such a living as mine, my results indicate that we would require at least another ¾ earth to sustain the living. The current consumption was rated to exceed the global natural capacity by 75% hence the argument. Therefore, the calculator indicated that people must embrace some change in their current rates of consumption, a situation that will save the world.   Alternatively, at least another planet must be discovered to support the current consumption rates of the entire planet. However, if nothing is done, then the capacity of the earth to support the current population is diminishing quite fast, and soon, all the ecological support systems will collapse. From the individual measures of ecological footprint, scientists believe that inference on the levels can be determined for a city, business, nation, and the entire globe at large can be made. Through the measure, therefore, one can confirm the level of pressure that human beings impose on the planet and the natural resources at large. The estimation and the subsequent campaigns to enlighten all people on the need to improve personal ecological footprints could enable human beings to manage the ecological assets at their disposal.

Suggested Changes for Other People

The analysis presented above reveals that collective responsibility to save the planet is inevitable. The immediate agenda that needs to be evaluated is the current use of fossil fuels, which increasingly threaten the sustenance of the current natural ecological system. Better and improved methods of producing energy, such as the sun, the wind, and tidal energy, should be embraced to reduce the volumes of carbon gas emissions attributed to the use of fossil fuels. Such a suggestion would enable all other people lower their calculable footprint. However, the improvements should start from the individual level by embracing a better perception of the individual contributions toward the global challenge in the analysis. As such, this paper suggests that changes be observed from individuals by increasing agricultural production for one’s consumption, embracing such sources of power as solar power for domestic use, and walking and cycling for short distances instead of driving. Besides, the change in dietary preferences from convenience foods could contribute greatly towards improving the ecological footprint scores.

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Consumption Levels and Footprint

The calculation involved varying my levels of consumption then impacted my footprint by either lowering or increasing the scores. When I lowered my consumption levels, the footprint scores reduced significantly, and the converse was true. The variations presented a significant trend, as every person could use that as the basis for advocating for a reduction in the current consumption levels. Hence, this would enable the planet’s natural systems to support the current population. The argument here is that all human beings must observe a reduction in their current consumption rates if the planet is to sustain the populations through the natural systems. The ecological footprint establishes a relationship between the levels of consumption of human beings and the levels of waste produced, carbon dioxide emissions, and the level of ecological degradation. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between an ecological footprint and the level of individual consumption levels. People with high levels of consumption and especially the convenience foods like fast foods, contribute to high levels of carbon emissions when compared to people with lower consumption rates.


From the calculator, there are various categories of the footprint, and my most significant ones were consumption and waste management. The scores that were observed in the two confirmed the significance of these categories. As indicated above, my consumption levels are relatively high and unsustainable. The same was observed in the levels of waste I accounted for in one year. Both of the categories, therefore, threatened the perpetual support of the system of the planet, hence the need for a change. In the event of high consumption rates, the general rates of ecological footprint and carbon emissions keep rising. Besides, the higher the rates of consumption, the higher the levels of waste produced, and thus contribute to increased exploitation of natural assets. The overuse’ of natural assets could, therefore, explain the threat humans pose to the sustainability of the globe at large.


 First, one must appreciate that the levels of waste produced are directly related to the consumption levels. Therefore, the most important aspect of change that I must observe is the reduction in my consumption levels. Accordingly, I should observe a reduction in the consumption of foods that involve the consumption of high amounts of fossil fuels in production, transportation, and processing. My immediate strategy would be to produce what I consume, which may considerably reduce the environmental impacts. Avoiding the consumption of convenience foods would lower my scores in the ecological footprint regarding carbon dioxide emissions. Besides, producing what I consume could be advisable in that it could contribute to the lower production of waste and management of the ecosystem.

Lessons Learned

By working through the quiz process, I have learned quite a lot. First, the levels of current consumption by humans threaten the capacity of the planet to sustain it shortly. Therefore, if the current consumption levels were to be sustained, an alternative planet must be sought. Secondly, change will always start from an individual, and with collaborative efforts; the resolved changes would enable the planet to support life in the future. People should, therefore, strive to embrace the improved systems of producing energy than relying on the carbon-emitting sources of energy. Finally, if everybody were to calculate their own footprint and act accordingly by reducing consumption levels, then the planet’s current natural systems could sustain life indefinitely.


Works Cited

Sengupta, Ramprasad. “Ecological Footprint.” Ecological Limits and Economic Development

(2013): 92-104. Print.

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