It tracks this demand through an ecological accounting system. The accounts contrast the biologically productive area people use for their consumption to the biologically productive area available within a region or the world biocapacitythe productive area that can regenerate what people demand from nature. In short, it is a measure of human impact on Earth's ecosystem and reveals the dependence of the human economy on natural capital.
Rees, The University of British Columbia Conventional wisdom suggests that because of technology and trade, human carrying capacity is infinitely expandable and therefore virtually irrelevant to demography and development planning. By contrast, this article argues that ecological carrying capacity remains the fundamental basis for demographic accounting.
A fundamental question for ecological economics is whether remaining stocks of natural capital are adequate to sustain the anticipated load of the human economy into the next century. Since mainstream neoclassical models are blind to ecological structure and function, they cannot even properly address this question.
The present article therefore assesses the capital stocks, physical flows, and corresponding ecosystems areas required to support the economy using "ecological footprint" analysis.
This approach shows that most so-called "advanced" countries are running massive unaccounted ecological deficits with the rest of the planet. Since not all countries can be net importers of carrying capacity, the material standards of the wealthy cannot be extended sustainably to even the present world population using prevailing technology.
In this light, sustainability may well depend on such measures as greater emphasis on equity in international relationships, significant adjustments to prevailing terms of trade, increasing regional self-reliance, and policies to stimulate a massive increase in the material and energy efficiency of economic activity.
Please address correspondence to Dr. According to Garrett Hardin"carrying capacity is the fundamental basis for demographic accounting. Their vision of the human economy is one in which "the factors of production are infinitely substitutable for one another" and in which "using any resource more intensely guarantees an increase in output" Kirchner et al.
As Daly observes, this vision assumes a world "in which carrying capacity is infinitely expandable" and therefore irrelevant.
Clearly there is great division over the value of carrying capacity concepts in the sustainability debate. This article sides solidly with Hardin. I start from the premise that despite our increasing technological sophistication, humankind remains in a state of "obligate dependence" on the productivity and life support services of the ecosphere Rees, Thus, from an ecological perspective, adequate land and associated productive natural capital are fundamental to the prospects for continued civilized existence on Earth.
However, at present, both the human population and average consumption are increasing while the total area of productive land and stocks of natural capital are fixed or in decline.
These opposing trends demand a revival of carrying capacity analysis in sustainable development planning. The complete rationale is as follows: Carrying Capacity and Human Load An environment's carrying capacity is its maximum persistently supportable load Catton For purposes of game and range management, carrying capacity is usually defined as the maximum population of a given species that can be supported indefinitely in a defined habitat without permanently impairing the productivity of that habitat.
However, because of our seeming ability to increase our own carrying capacity by eliminating competing species, by importing locally scarce resources, and through technology, this definition seems irrelevant to humans.
Indeed, trade and technology are often cited as reasons for rejecting the concept of human carrying capacity out of hand. The reason for this becomes clearer if we define carrying capacity not as a maximum population but rather as the maximum "load" that can safely be imposed on the environment by people.
Human load is a function not only of population but also of per capita consumption and the latter is increasing even more rapidly than the former due ironically to expanding trade and technology.
As Catton observes: As a result of such trends, load pressure relative to carrying capacity is rising much faster than is implied by mere population increases. The Ecological Argument Despite our technological, economic, and cultural achievements, achieving sustainability requires that we understand human beings as ecological entities.
Indeed, from a functional perspective, the relationship of humankind to the rest of the ecosphere is similar to those of millions of other species with which we share the planet. The major material difference between humans and other species is that in addition to our biological metabolism, the human enterprise is characterized by an industrial metabolism.
In ecological terms, all our toys and tools the "capital" of economists are "the exosomatic equivalent of organs" Sterrer, and, like bodily organs, require continuous flows of energy and material to and from "the environment" for their production and operation. It follows that in a finite world: This approach shows that humankind, through the industrial economy, has become the dominant consumer in most of the Earth's major ecosystems.
A fundamental question for ecological economics, therefore, is whether the physical output of remaining species populations, ecosystems, and related biophysical processes i. This "fundamental question" is at the heart of ecological carrying capacity but is virtually ignored by mainstream analyses.
On Natural Capital Natural capital refers to "a stock [of natural assets] that yields a flow of valuable goods and services into the future. The stock that produces this flow is " natural capital" and the sustainable flow is "natural income. These life support services are also counted as natural income.
Since the flow of services from ecosystems often requires that they function as intact systems, the structure and diversity of the system may be an important component of natural capital. There are three broad classes of natural capital: Renewable natural capital, such as living species and ecosystems, is self-producing and self-maintaining using solar energy and photosynthesis.
These forms can yield marketable goods such as wood fibre, but may also provide unaccounted essential services when left in place e.
Replenishable natural capital, such as groundwater and the ozone layer, is non-living but is also often dependent on the solar "engine" for renewal. Finally, non-renewable natural capital such as fossil fuel and minerals, are analogous to inventories - any use implies liquidating part of the stock.
This article takes the position that since adequate stocks of self-producing and replenishable natural capital are essential for life support and are generally non-substitutablethese forms are more important to sustainability than are non-renewable forms.This thesis aims to apply the concept of the Ecological Footprint (EF) to examine the impact that the tourism industry has on the environment through energy consumption and also investigates patterns of energy-consuming behaviour among tourists and tourism businesses.
There are several websites with simple calculators which an individual can use to measure their ecological footprint, for a student like me who lives in a shared apartment complex, travels by car sometimes, occasionally recycles and eats mostly convenience food consisting of both meat and vegetables the Footprint comes to an average of acres!
Select three actions you could take to reduce your footprint and list them.
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