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Ecological Footprint (PDF)
Managing Our Biocapacity Budget
Our economy is running a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme with the planet. We use future resources to run the present, using more than Earth can replenish. Like any such scheme, this works for a limited time, followed by a crash.
Avoiding ecological bankruptcy requires rigorous resource accounting — a challenging task, but doable with the right tools.
Ecological Footprint accounting, first introduced in the 1990s and continuously developed, continues to be the only metric that compares overall human demand on nature with what our planet can renew — its biocapacity — and distils this into one number: how many Earths we use.
Ecological Footprint provides a complete introduction, covering:
- Footprint and biocapacity accounting
- Data and key findings for nations
- Worldwide examples including businesses, cities, and countries
- Strategies for creating regenerative economies
Whether you’re a student, business leader, future-oriented city planner, economist, or have an abiding interest in humanity’s future, Footprint and biocapacity are key parameters to be reckoned with and Ecological Footprint is your essential guide.
Mathis Wackernagel is co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and president of Global Footprint Network. Recipient of numerous awards, he has lectured at more than a hundred universities and is author or contributor to over one hundred peer-reviewed papers, articles, reports, and books including the bestselling Our Ecological Footprint. He lives in Oakland, California.
Bert Beyers is an author and journalist with a passion for exploring humanity’s future and its ecological context. He is a senior editor at one of Germany’s largest radio stations in Hamburg.
Born and raised in Germany, Katharina Rout received her PhD from the University of Münster. After moving to Canada, she became a professor of English literature at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC, and a translator of literary and academic prose from German to English.
"How much of the Earth's biocapacity are humans using? Before the Ecological Footprint, no one knew for sure. Now, we have the equivalent of an instrument panel. This is a momentous development, and one that all citizens of the planet should know about — because the warning lights are flashing red."
Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, author of The End of Growth and Peak Everything
"This excellent book helps us understand and truly appreciate Nature's capacity to continue to provide life support for our planet and for all of its inhabitants."
Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General, International Union of Conservation of Nature
"The great challenge for humanity in the 21st century is not to stop the growth of the economy, but to stop the growth in the human ecological footprint — and eventually bring it back to one planet. This important book by the inventors of the concept explains why and how."
Prof. Jorgen Randers, former President of the BI Norwegian Business School, coauthor of The Limits to Growth, author of 2052 — A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years
"If we did to our bank account what we have been doing to the Earth's natural capital we would have been bankrupt long ago. The planet has been extremely lenient with us but that resilience is about to give way to a natural and human crisis. This book is a loud wake up call to everyone."
Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
"In the nick of time, as humanity crashes up against the resource limitations of our collective twenty first century lifestyles, Ecological Footprint provides a clear eyed and accessible analysis of the challenge. With clarity and compassion, Ecological Footprint reveals both our alarming self-inflicted situation and the way forward. Wackernagel and Beyers' well written book has the power to turn the tide."
Thomas E. Lovejoy, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Institute for a Sustainable Earth George Mason University
"A superb treatment of Ecological Footprint accounting as a part of our global balance sheet. Regardless of whether you are a student, a teacher, or an economist, you will find much of substantial importance in this book."
Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
"Looking for a science based practical tool to navigate your future on Earth? Here it is. Ecological Footprint provides an integrated and concrete measure of our human pressure on the Planet. We all urgently need to reconnect our lives to planet Earth and adopt a biocapacity approach to modern life, translating it into concrete steps of how each and every one of us can contribute to building resilient and sustainable societies."
Prof. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
"Human societies live — and die — by cultural myths including the catastrophic modern myth of perpetual economic growth. With their update of the Ecological Footprint, Wackernagel and Beyers wield the most effective myth-busting tool available. Failure to read this book should disqualify any would-be elected official from running for office."
William Rees is a human ecologist, ecological economist and former Director of UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning in Vancouver. He co-developed the ecological footprint with Mathis Wackernagel
"At a time when we must find ways to urgently respond to the existential threats of climate change and ecosystems extinction, this book systematically lays before us the accounting metric necessary to evaluate a world in overshoot. Almost 50 years ago two of the "Limits to Growth" scenarios predicted global system"overshoot and collapse" by the mid- to latter-part of the 21st century. Today ecological footprinting, if adopted by governments and business leaders, alongside comparable planetary solutions, could help navigate our emergence from emergency."
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President, The Club of Rome