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Development of Ecological Footprint to an Essential Economic and Political Tool

  • Hans P. Aubauer

    ()

    (Department of Physics, University of Vienna, Alser Strasse 12/1/8, A-1090 Wien, Austria)

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    This paper shows how the concept of the Ecological Footprint can be developed by incorporating the six procedures listed below, to create a single indicator of just distribution of the limited natural resources, between and within generations, and become a benchmark for decision-making between alternatives of consumption, life-styles and economic policies. Using this new tool, it should be possible to label every commodity, service and natural resource with the share it claims of the Earth’s surface. This, in turn, can enable the integration of natural limits into the economy through the complete internalization of costs within market prices, while also reducing resource throughput fairly and quickly without an undue loss in GNP. The six procedures are as follows: First, operating within the boundaries of the sustainable local yields of the biologically productive soil and water areas, without any input of non-renewable resources, particularly fossil fuels; Second, taking spatial variations of this yield into account; Third, considering only sustainable CO 2-sinks; Fourth, including every exploitation of nature, for instance all material flows; Fifth, taking care of intertemporal effects and depletion; and sixth, preserving the natural habitats necessary for the survival of biodiversity, bearing the species/area relationship in mind.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 649-665

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:4:p:649-665:d:12021
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    1. Fiala, Nathan, 2008. "Measuring sustainability: Why the ecological footprint is bad economics and bad environmental science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 519-525, November.
    2. Haberl, Helmut & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin, 2001. "How to calculate and interpret ecological footprints for long periods of time: the case of Austria 1926-1995," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 25-45, July.
    3. Huijbregts, Mark A.J. & Hellweg, Stefanie & Frischknecht, Rolf & Hungerbuhler, Konrad & Hendriks, A. Jan, 2008. "Ecological footprint accounting in the life cycle assessment of products," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 798-807, February.
    4. Lenzen, Manfred & Borgstrom Hansson, Carina & Bond, Stuart, 2007. "On the bioproductivity and land-disturbance metrics of the Ecological Footprint," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 6-10, February.
    5. White, Thomas J., 2007. "Sharing resources: The global distribution of the Ecological Footprint," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 402-410, December.
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    7. Eder, Peter & Narodoslawsky, Michael, 1999. "What environmental pressures are a region's industries responsible for? A method of analysis with descriptive indices and input-output models," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 359-374, June.
    8. Hinterberger, Friedrich & Luks, Fred & Schmidt-Bleek, Friedrich, 1997. "Material flows vs. 'natural capital': What makes an economy sustainable?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 1-14, October.
    9. Wiedmann, Thomas & Minx, Jan & Barrett, John & Wackernagel, Mathis, 2006. "Allocating ecological footprints to final consumption categories with input-output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 28-48, January.
    10. Aubauer, Hans P., 2006. "A just and efficient reduction of resource throughput to optimum," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 637-649, June.
    11. Weber, Jean-Louis, 2007. "Implementation of land and ecosystem accounts at the European Environment Agency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 695-707, March.
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    14. Kitzes, Justin & Moran, Daniel & Galli, Alessandro & Wada, Yoshihiko & Wackernagel, Mathis, 2009. "Interpretation and application of the Ecological Footprint: A reply to Fiala (2008)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 929-930, February.
    15. Schwarzlmüller, Elmar, 2009. "Human appropriation of aboveground net primary production in Spain, 1955-2003: An empirical analysis of the industrialization of land use," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 282-291, December.
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    18. Turner, Karen & Lenzen, Manfred & Wiedmann, Thomas & Barrett, John, 2007. "Examining the global environmental impact of regional consumption activities -- Part 1: A technical note on combining input-output and ecological footprint analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 37-44, April.
    19. Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin & Lucht, Wolfgang & Haberl, Helmut, 2009. "Embodied HANPP: Mapping the spatial disconnect between global biomass production and consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 328-334, December.
    20. J. Pillarisetti & Jeroen Bergh, 2010. "Sustainable nations: what do aggregate indexes tell us?," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 49-62, February.
    21. Szargut, Jan & Stanek, Wojciech, 2010. "Thermo-climatic cost of the domestic consumption products," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1196-1199.
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