Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Worth Repeating

While I often quote others in this blog, I am ususally discrete (might I even say "surgical"?) in my quotations. Not here. Wholesale lopping here from an email from Mathis Wackernagel at Global Footprint, a recent Skoll Award recipient:

"In nearly every newspaper, from California to Australia, you can find a reference to the 'Carbon Footprint.' It has become an enormously popular term as we rush to stem global warming, and to find alternative energy sources that won't harm the climate. This is great news.

The Carbon Footprint is 50% of humanity's overall Ecological Footprint, and global warming is one of the most visible symptoms we've seen to-date of the larger problem humanity is facing: ever-increasing, global ecological overshoot.

Ecological overshoot means that humanity is living beyond the planet's ability to sustain us. Today the focus is on carbon, but climate change is happening as we approach other critical limits as well, in fisheries, forests, cropland, and water. Unless we focus on ending overshoot as a whole-systems problem, some of our solutions to climate change could cause large, unintended impacts.

For example, in Brazil, sugarcane plantations used for ethanol production are being linked to air pollution, water pollution, and deforestation. And in Borneo and Sumatra, large areas of tropical forest are being cleared to make room for palm oil plantations, which is destroying the habitat of endangered species, in particular, the orangutan.

The Ecological Footprint was created to ensure that addressing a singular issue, like global warming, doesn't negatively impact entire ecosystems or shift pressures from one land type onto another. "

Different choices on energy and technology can still have vastly different ecological impacts. How will you reduce your personal footprint? Walking or riding a bike? Buying wind energy from another state? Installing solar panels? Buying carbon offsets from replanted trees in the Amazon? Using the EcoFootprint tools will help you make informed decisions.

As we work toward a clean energy future, carbon is an important consideration, but as Mathis points out, it is only half the environmental story. And "Ecological Footprint" is only one third of the Triple Bottom Line around which we need to be building sustainable enterprises.

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