M2Q1: Ecological Footprint

A cattle farm has an area of 10 kilometer square, but an estimated ecological footprint of several times the area of the farm. With this statement in mind, answer the following questions:

  1. What is an ecological footprint and how is it calculated?
    Ecological footprint is a measure of human consumption of natural resources in comparison to Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them. The primary goal is to answer the question: How much of the Earth’s resources do our lifestyle require? We then analyze the result to see if the Earth is capable of sponsoring it. The calculation is complex that takes everything that the humans do (consume/produce) in practice into account.

  2. Why might the ecological footprint of the farm be several times its area?
    Ecological footprint includes everything we do and the area of land is not the only factor. On a cattle farm, we need to take into account on how much food we provide the cattles, how much waste do they produce,  how much land do they use, etc.

  3. What are some of the criticism levied at the concept of ecological footprints? Are these criticisms justified?
    1. Science’s View:
      Footprint analysis is a oversimplification while the interactions with nature are complex. 

      Rebuttal:
      Footprint is good enough to show the overall picture. It is believed that footprint analysis can avoid paralysis and may actually underestimate the human impact on the environment. However, I would argue that it might be overestimated at the same time.

    2. Market’s View:
      Environmental problems are due to poorly defined property rights or prices. If prices are right, market will solve the problems (such as adding carbon tax).
      Rebuttal:
      Footprint analysis may help determine true costs and not everything in the nature can be priced.

    3. Technology’s View:
      P
      eople have been worried about running out resources for hundreds of years. Technology has been a big part of solutions as we have higher production, higher living standards, better medical systems, etc. It is led to believe that human technology has the potential to solving any problems in the future.

      Rebuttal:
      Technology efficiency might not grow fast enough to meet the demand from global economy. Also, the invention might actually consume more energy
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