The ecological footprint is a concept established in the past two to three decades by the environmental movement. It is designed to “measure” the degree of usage of the natural resources by the human beings. This is a universal concept, in the sense that it applies to every human being on the planet. All of us during our daily lives use natural resources for our daily activities and produce waste as a result of this process. As suggested by Schaller, this concept “provides a simple yet elegant accounting tool that can help us see the impact of human consumption patterns on the earth” (2001, p. 120).
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In fact, the “ecological footprint” concept compares this amount of usage that we do to the natural resources with the ability of these resources to regenerate. This definition of the ecological footprint is agreed upon by all of the researchers and authors of the field. Huber is one of these authors who also agree with the definition. This short essay is a comparison between his views and opinion of the abovementioned author, Schaller. Even though, agreeing on the basis of the definition of the concept, they still have many differences concerning the reasons for the current situation in the world. Another important issue is related to possible ways of changing the situation (Huber, 2001, p. 1).
Schaller and Huber both converge on the idea that for Western societies, the findings and calculations related to the ecological footprint are less than comforting. Presenting the main arguments, Schaller (2001) claims:
The ecologically productive land of the world now totals some 3.6 acres for each of the 5.9 billion people now alive. The average North American lifestyle requires almost 10 acres of ecologically productive lands to supply its resources and absorb its wastes. Thus, the ecological demands of average citizens in wealthy countries exceed global per capita supply of resources by a factor of nearly three (p. 120).
Nevertheless, the author points out that these calculations do not take into consideration the development of new technologies both for resource use efficiency or waste management and elimination. In fact, there have been very interesting advances in these areas though the rate of technological development is lower than that of the increasing use of resources. On the other hand, Huber points out that most of the ‘fault’ of the situation of the ecological footprint is due to poor countries and undeveloped ones (2001, p. 124). As he states, “Despite their small appetites, developing-world countries manage to generate a lot of garbage, smoke and trash. They consume little, but they are wasteful and destructive” (Huber, 2001, p. 123). He identifies the lack of capital and know-how of these undeveloped countries as the basis for such a tragic situation.
Huber tries to “take the fault away” from Western countries and redirects attention toward what we call the “third world” (2001, p. 123) in terms of development contrasted to the claims by another theoretician on this point, Schaller. Besides, these undeveloped countries are responsible for the current situation of the ecological footprint but it is a way of drawing attention to the role that other societies have in relation to the usage of natural resources. Thus, Huber states that in order to begin changing the footprint that humans leave on the environment, it is better to start with the less developed countries (Huber, 2001, p. 123).
Huber, P. (2001). American wealth and consumption patterns enhance the environment. In W. Dudley (Ed.), The Environment: Opposing Viewpoints (pp. 122 – 125). San Diego: Greenhaven.
Schaller, D. (2001). American wealth and consumption patterns degrade the environment. In W. Dudley (Ed.), The Environment: Opposing Viewpoints (pp. 118 – 121). San Diego: Greenhaven