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Thread: Eco-footprint Analysis

  1. #1 Eco-footprint Analysis 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    From New Scientist, 23 November, page 28

    A 1996 book called "Our Ecological Footprint" suggested that humanity is using resources equivalent to the annual production from 18 billion hectatres, but taking it from 12 billion. Or, in other words, we use 150% of what the Earth can produce.

    Now another report has appeared, published in PLoS Biology, by the Breakthrough Institute, which denies that conclusion, and says that this is nonsense. It is a bit unfortunate that the New Scientist writer, Fred Pearce, assumed that this latter report was wrong, and he did not give a balanced view. He thinks the imbalance is more than 150%. But that is a personal opinion which may, or may not, have any validity. Without hard data, such views are imponderable.

    The new report shows a couple of interesting things.

    First, using UN statistics on forest use and forest growth, it appears that globally, forest growth exceeds deforestation. I have known of this for a number of individual nations, such as China, which plants more forest than it harvests. But it is interesting to see it applies globally, in spite of a few places, like Brazil and Indonesia, cutting down more than they replant.

    The new report also suggests that globally fish stocks are increasing. This actually makes sense to me, since (and this is my own 'logic'), fisheries normally target higher tropic levels, removing predators, which would allow fish biomass at lower tropic levels to increase. In other words, we get fewer big fish, but a hell of a lot more small fish. Not a very good exchange, since those big fish are of great value.

    According to the new report, therefore, forests and fisheries are growing, and they also claim that croplands and pasture are in equilibrium, meaning the productivity of crops and pastures equals need. The major imbalance remaining is carbon emissons creating climate change. No news there.


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  3. #2  
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    It sounds very comforting, but I'd like to see confirmation from other sources.

    The Breakthrough Institute has a very erratic track record. Absolutely spot on sometimes. Absolutely inside out, upside down, confused and completely bass ackwards at other times.

    If it were a racehorse, I'd be calling in the stewards.


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    To Adelady

    I am merely discussing a new report. I do not know, in detail, how right or wrong it will be. I suspect it will rouse some debate, which might even get acrimonious.

    I suspect they are correct about the forests and fisheries, although I think trading all those big fish for a lot of small fish is a lousy deal. I am interested in the way, off the Americas, a loss of big fish has resulted in a population explosion in the large Humboldt Squid. When an ecological niche becomes vacant, it may be filled by a different form of life. I often think that westerners should develop a taste for squid. If we did, all those Humboldt Squid might find their population restored to traditonal levels.
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    It's amazing the different takes on the central messages of articles when viewed from different mindsets. On my reading of the article here, the main thrust of the message appeared to be that better guidelines needed to be developed to establish more robust ecological indicators in assisting policymakers in their decisions regarding more sustainable directions. The proposed guidelines seemed logical to me. :-))
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    I ve heard of the forest and fish global growth, vut are we talking numbers of fish/tree or biomass total?Obviously if i cut a 1000y/o tree and plant a bonzai, it s not an even trade.Also biodiversity of amazon forest is nearly unbeatable so it kinda has special value.
    If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
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  7. #6  
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    Ximlab

    Forest are normaly measured in hectares forest cover. Fish stocks in tonnes of biomass.
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  8. #7  
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    Depends on scale as well. For forest for example if we are talking species, genus or even larger catagories we get into measurements such as density, abundance, frequency, coverage and a number of others as well as way to measure diversity.
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