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Ecological Footprint of California
Transcript of Ecological Footprint of California
The Ecological Footprint is an accounting tool that measures the amount of biologically productive land and sea area required both to produce what a population (or an activity) consumes and to absorb its waste, using prevailing technology and management practice. The Ecological Footprint is compared
to available biocapacity on the planet's or in a region.
The Footprint (or human demand on biocapacity) is determined by evaluating production and trade flows of crop, timber, forest, fish, and meat products, as well as our mayor waste flow: carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning.
The fishing grounds Footprint is calculated based on the annual primary production required to sustain a harvested aquatic species. (The primary production requirement is the mass ratio of harvested fish to annual primary production needed to sustain that species, based on its average trophic level.) This estimate of maximum harvestable primary production is then divided by the total area of continental shelf in the world. Fish caught and used in aquaculture feed mixes are included.
Grazing land is used to raise livestock for meat, dairy, hide and wool products. The grazing land Footprint is calculated by comparing the amount of feed crops that are fed to livestock with the total amount required to support livestock, with the difference assumed to come from grazing land.
California's cropland biocapacity comprises 3 percent of the total cropland biocapacity in the United States. This may be counter-intuitive to how we think of California—especially the agricultural sector of the economy. But biocapacity is calculated from yields in tons of production, and from area. While the dollar value of goods produced in California is typically high (reflecting market prices), biocapacity is based on the physical weight of crops harvested, the area used to grow crops, and the intensity of each specific crop type harvested. In other words, biocapacity reflects biological productivity, not revenue.
The forest product component of the Ecological Footprint accounts for the amount of lumber, pulp, timber products, and fuel wood consumed by a population.
The carbon component of the Ecological Footprint is calculated as the amount of forest land that would be required to sequester (through photosynthesis) carbon emissions released by burning fossil fuels and not sequestered by oceans.
Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the only waste product included in the Ecological Footprint methodology. Other greenhouses gases are not included.
This is the only land use type for which biocapacity is not explicitly defined.
Personal transportation makes up 24 percent of the carbon component of California's Ecological Footprint.
Personal transportation includes operation of personal transport equipment like cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. A separate category called transport services (8 percent) includes public transportation of passengers by railway, road, air, and water.
This includes not only indirect emissions from burning gas, but it includes embodied carbon or the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the manufacture of spare parts and accessories, fuels and lubricants - all of the goods and services for maintenance and repair. (Original manufacture of cars is included in the separate category for "Purchase of vehicles".)
Electricity makes up the second largest portion, accounting for 8 percent of California's carbon sequestration land.
The cropland Footprint consists of the number of global hectares required to grow all crop products, including food and fiber for human consumption, livestock feeds, fish meals, oil crops and rubber.
Half of the Footprint of fish caught California's marine and inland waterways was opalescent inshore squid (Loligo opalescens), while North Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) contributed another 18 percent. These fish are harvested directly from California's fishing grounds biocapacity. Most of what is caught by California is exported.
Biocapacity - the biosphere's regenerative capacity - is measured across five area types: cropland, grazing land, forest, fishing grounds, and built-up land. Forest areas serve two distinct human demands: forest to sequester carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel, and forests to supply timber and wood fuel.
The Ecological Footprint (demand) and biocapacity (supply) are measured in global hectares (gha), which represent biologically productive hectares with world average productivity. Biologically productive areas include cropland, forest and fishing grounds, and do not include deserts, glaciers and the open ocean.
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By comparing the Ecological Footprint to biocapacity, we can see if human demand on nature exceeds the rate at which nature renews.
occurs when the Footprint of a population exceeds the biocapacity of the geographic area available to that population. Conversely, a
exists when the biocapacity of an area exceeds its population's Footprint.
When a region or country is in
, it meets demand by either importing biocapacity through trade, overusing its own ecological assets, and/or overloading global carbon sinks.
Today, the United States’ Footprint is 2.2 billion hectares, roughly double its biocapacity. Its
has been increasing over the last decades.
In 2008, the most current year current data are available, the total Footprint of the United States was second in size only to that of China.
In 2008 with a per capita Ecological Footprint of 7.2 global hectares (gha), the United States had the world's fifth largest per capita Ecological Footprint, after Qatar (11.7 gha), Kuwait (9.7 gha), the United Arab Emirates (8.4 gha), and Denmark (8.3 gha).
Carbon remains the largest component of the United States' Ecological Footprint.
What is the Ecological Footprint?
United States of America
California's per capita biocapacity is much less than that of the United States: 1.0 gha, compared to 3.9 gha. This discrepancy is mostly due to California's high population density but also to the aridity of much of California.
The largest shares of California's cropland, grazing land, and fishing grounds Footprint components are in the food that Californians eat. While smaller percentages of these components are included in housing, transportation, goods, and services, these latter consumption categories account for the majority of the forest land and carbon components of California's Ecological Footprint.
Carbon dioxide emissions are accumulating in the atmosphere at a rate that is faster than they can be sequestered; human-generated carbon dioxide emissions are overloading global carbon sinks.
Total Ecological Footprint of the United States
United States' per capita Ecological Footprint
California's cropland Biocapacity
California's grazing land
Grazing land was only 1 percent of California's Ecological Footprint in 2008, compared to 3% of the national average.
In 2008, California's grazing land biocapacity was 2.8 million gha, larger than its grazing land Footprint of 2.6 million gha.
California can produce enough meat and dairy products to support its grazing land Footprint without having to rely on imports. And although California imports some meat and dairy products, it exports more than it imports.
The Footprint of production is the area necessary for supporting the actual harvest of primary products. In California, 98 percent of the grazing land Footprint of production was cattle and products derived from cattle; sheep and goats made up the remaining 2 percent.
California's fishing grounds
In 2008, even though California had more than enough biocapacity (8.2 million gha) to provide for its own consumption (3.0 million gha), most of the fish products that it consumed came from outside the state (primarily the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America). Most of what was caught by fisheries in California was exported, while net imports accounted for 75 percent of the fishing grounds Footprint.
Demand for forest products comprise 10 percent of California's Ecological Footprint. In 2008, California's Ecological Footprint exceeded its biocapacity, meaning the state was running an ecological deficit in forest, for forest products alone.
Net imports account for 90 percent of the forest product Footprint of consumption. Even if California used all 10 million gha of forest biocapacity available within the state, half of the lumber, pulp, and timber products it consumed would still need to be imported.
California's forest land Footprint is primarily embodied in housing and for goods that the population purchases, including recreational equipment, tools and equipment for house maintenance and gardening, furniture, and paper.
Although many of the state's economic sectors are highly productive, California makes up for its
by importing many of the products and biocapacity that supports it's Ecological Footprint.
As global resources prices increase
, obtaining the primary inputs to California's economic sectors (e.g. oil, water, etc.) as well as the products that Californians demand will become more expensive.
Managing ecological and water resources
within the state of California can be central to mitigating risk exposure. Without these resources, California will become completely dependent on biocapacity from elsewhere to support its Ecological Footprint.
Continuous monitoring of California's Ecological Footprint and water resources will enable us to establish the relationship between biocapacity and water availability in California. This can help identify how far and how fast we need to go to avoid depleting our ecological assets—not just to avoid loss of biodiversity, but to feed our economy.
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This presentation explains Ecological Footprint accounting, shows the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity results of California, and explores California's Ecological Footprint by land type.
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In 2008, cropland biocapacity in California was 12.4 million gha, and 5.5 million gha of this was exported (this equals 44% of the California's cropland biocapacity that was exported).
However, California's cropland Footprint of consumption - what the population consumes - was much larger (28.7 million gha), and the gap between biocapacity (supply) and the Ecological Footprint (demand) is made up for with imports, meaning Californians depend on cropland biocapacity from outside the state to support the most of their food and fiber consumption.
California's carbon sequestration land
Measuring human demand
Which activities contribute most of California's Ecological Footprint?
Note that the forest biocapacity serves both the forest product Footprint and the Carbon Footprint. If local forest biocapacity is not available to sequester local CO2 emissions, biocapacity somewhere else is needed to sequester that CO2. If tha's not available either, then CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere.
In 2008, California's per capita Ecological Footprint of 5.9 gha was smaller than the United States (7.2 gha). If California were a country, it would have the world's 15th largest per capita Ecological Footprint, between Ireland (6.2 gha) and Sweden (5.7 gha).
Most of the difference between the national Footprint average and California's is due to lower per capita carbon dioxide emissions in California (the carbon component of California’s Ecological Footprint is 4.3 gha per capita, which is 0.6 gha less than the United States' 4.9 gha average). Some of this difference can be explained by the use of hydropower in California.
The carbon component represents 73 percent of California's Ecological Footprint.
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US and California EF and BC