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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Examining the Ecological Footprint

What is an “Ecological Footprint”?

The Ecological Footprint has emerged as the world’s premier measure of humanity’s demand on nature as it measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resource it consumes and to absorb its wastes, using prevailing technology.

One component of the Ecological Footprint is the carbon footprint, which accounts for over half of humanity’s overall impact. This is the most rapidly-growing component, posing significant risks to the future of our planet.

Are you curious to learn about your personal carbon footprint? Check out this interactive carbon footprint calculator, where you can find out how many planets it would take to support our population if everyone lived your lifestyle.

This calculator asks simple questions about your lifestyle, including the way you eat, 
where you live, and the way you travel.

The calculator provides clear results about your ecological footprint, 
and even offers suggestions on how to lessen your impact.
A big portion of most peoples’ carbon footprint can come from their transportation options, especially air travel. Luckily, travelers now have a choice to fly with airlines that have come up with unique ways to decrease their environmental impacts. Here, some major airlines and their environmental efforts:

-American: investing in the development of alternate fuels via future-purchase agreements, focusing on ways to use fuel more efficiently, and raising and allocating the capital needed to purchase new aircraft and aviation technology.

-Continental: offering customers an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets that are designed to reduce the environmental impact of their trip, and investing carbon offsets* in high-impact projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases, such as reforestation or renewable energy.

-Delta: striving to reduce emissions, conserve resources, support alternative fuels research, and engage employees and customers through initiatives such as carbon offsetting and recycling.

-United: instated a carbon offset program, allowing passengers to choose from several portfolios of carbon reduction programs, including international reforestation, U.S. renewable energy, and “Gold standard” international renewable energy and energy efficiency.

*Carbon offsets are credits that may be purchased as part of a process designed to alleviate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels. Through this process, purchasers have the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions resulting from their travel by making tax-deductible charitable contributions to a variety of independently reviewed and certified environmental projects focused on international reforestation and renewable energy.

What does your carbon footprint look like? What steps can you take to decrease your impact when you travel?

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