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Ecological Footprint

How accurate is a carbon footprint calculator? Does it perhaps divert our attention from the broader impacts of our lifestyle? 

The ecological footprint is an approach that estimates how much land is needed to support an individual's lifestyle. It is a broad measure of resource use which highlights where consumption is exceeding environmental limits. The earth’s biocapacity is estimated to be about 2.1 hectares per person.

Measuring the ecological footprint can also help an organisation measure, monitor and reduce its environmental impacts. 

Ecological footprint calculators

Carbon footprint calculators

  • CarbonStory - meets all key principles, as identified by Andreas Birnik, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (vol 17, Sep 2013, pp 280–293, at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750583613002168) 

Tracy at Cape Town Oracle conducted research on a range of online carbon footprint calculators and found that most of the South African options tend to be simplistic. By contrast, she found some UK and US calculators which go into more detail, taking into account factors like whether or not you are vegetarian, what goods and services you use (for example, growing your own vegetables, or buying food that is locally produced, or buying food that has been transported long distances) and your household income - bearing in mind that big earners often have the largest carbon footprint!

Some of the South African online carbon footprint calculators:

Some of the US and UK online calculators:

Read more about the analysis of online carbon footprint calculators at http://www.capetownoracle.co.za/2008/07/5-south-african-online-carbon-calculators/ or

http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/EnvironmentalResourceManagement/EnergyEfficiency/Pages/CarbonFootprintCalculator.aspx

Take Action

Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page. Suggestions/Questions? Contact environment(at)ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:29:48 SAST