Thursday, July 15

Ecological Footprints

The Wildlife Conservation Society has a fascinating map showing the Human Footprint on our world by showing population densities. The accompanying
Analysis of the human footprint map indicates that 83% of the land's surface is influenced by one or more of the following factors: human population density greater than 1 person per square kilometer, within 15 km of a road or major river, occupied by urban or agricultural land uses, within 2 km of a settlement or a railway, and/or producing enough light to be visible regularly to a satellite at night. 98% of the areas where it is possible to grow rice, wheat or maize (according to FAO estimates) are similarly influenced. However human influence is not inevitably negative impact -- in fact conservation organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, have shown remarkable solutions that allow people and wildlife to co-exist. Nature is often resilient if given half a chance. Human beings are in the position of offering or withholding that chance.
There is an Ecological Footprint Quiz at a site associated with the Earthday Network. An absorbing and interactive series of questions allows us to determine any possible human footprint (in hectares) for a number of possible countries and standards of living. Ethiopia and several other African countries are potential settings for the quiz as are the United States and many members of the European Union. Try it out.

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