Fresh from slagging off the Worldwide Fund For Nature for their hypocritical approach towards waste and recycling, it seemed only fair to give them a bit of credit for some of the good work they do. As part of their ‘One Planet Living‘ campaign, WWF have revived the idea of the ecological footprint, which gives an indication of the extent to which individual lifestyles have exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity. In recent years, our obsession with greenhouse gases and climate change has seen the ecological footprint go right out of fashion, replaced by the carbon footprint, which isn’t really a relative footprint at all, but an absolute measure of our individual emissions.
At footprint.wwf.org.uk you can measure your own ecological footprint by answering searching questions about things like your eating and travel habits, and whether you insulate your house. Like most such questionnaires, the multiple-choice categories are pretty vague, and the results are probably not particularly accurate. However, what this kind of footprinting can do is remind us that we all have a share of just the one planet, which can get overlooked when our consumption is measured purely in terms of tons of CO2. It also emphasises that carbon emissions are far from the only measure of sustainability. What use having a zero carbon ‘footprint’ if half the planet was trashed just to grow the ‘sustainable’ fuels for my energy needs? What about water? Or biodiversity?
It’s not just about carbon, stupid.