This post is aimed to represent the meaning of such definitions as EF, GDP and GPI, find the connections and determine the effects that they have on each other.
From the one hand it is known that humanity can’t survive without the nature. Therefore, the use of natural resources is an inevitable part of our lives. However, from the other hand, people are overestimating the Earth’s resources which can create enormous problems and lead to a deficit of resources in the near future. As a result we come up with a question. How do we know the right amount of using the resources and how much are we using now? This is where the Ecological Footprint comes to help.
Picture 1:Ecological Footprint
According to Withgott and Brennan the ecological footprint “represents the total area of biologically productive land and water needed to produce the resources and dispose of the waste for a given person or population” (2).Therefore, the ecological footprint expresses the impact of humanity on the environment. It is used by various countries to find out the pressure that they have on our planet. Besides, it is also beneficial to detect your personal ecological footprint to determine how you affect the nature individually.
The video below represents information about the EF in UAE. However it can refer to any country and person that has a big EF and desires to reduce it.
Video 1:The Ef in UAE
GDP and GPI
It is not a secret that the economic growth is one of the primary goals of every country. Therefore, it is obvious that there would be some indicators that would measure the economic welfare. The principal indicator that is calculated my most of the countries and taken into account when making important decisions is GDP. GDP(Gross Domestic Product) is “the total monetary value of final goods and services a country produces each year” (2). Therefore, the GDP per capita would show the average per citizen of the country and would reflect the improvements or declines in the standards of living. However it has been much proposed lately that the GDP should be replaced by GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator). GPI includes everything that GDP takes into account and adds the cost of the negative impact of the economic activity such as the environmental and social costs (2). The inclusion of such costs is the reason why GPI is considered to be a more “green” indicator than GDP. Let’s take a look at some data about GDP and GPI.
Graph 1: GDP and GPI change
The graph above represents the change in GDP and GPI between 1950 and 2004 in US as the population of the US grew from 152,271,000 to 292,982,000. Let’s examine this in a more detailed way.
Comparing GDP and GPI
According to my calculations the GDP per capita between 1950 and 2004 increased by 3.421 times. At the same time the GPI per capita went up by 1.751 times. This shows that the rate of GDP’s increase is twice greater than the rate of GPI’s increase. This is due to the fact of the absence of environmental, social..costs from the GDP.
Benefits, environmental costs, and social and economic costs
The benefits, environmental costs and social and economic costs increased for 2.37, 5.09 and 4.29 times respectively. This indicates that as the costs rise with a higher rate than the benefit, the GPI won’t be able to increase as fast as GDP. As we can see the component that got the worst over these years is the environmental costs. This means that as it increases at a high rate, people damage the environment more and more.
Biocentric vs anthropocentric
From my point of view, a person with an anthropocentric view would have a higher GPI than a person with a biocentric worldview because an anthropocentric person would not take into account the effects on other living things and the environment in general as much as a biocentric person would. As a result his environmental costs would be less and the total GPI would be higher.
My Personal Accounting
My personal EF is more than 2 times smaller than the world average. However, telling that I don’t have to do anything and don’t owe anything to Mother Nature would be an exaggeration. I take into account the environmental costs and the social and economic costs as much as I can. I try to do my best to consider the environmental impact of my actions and to minimize the harmful influence on the environment.
As a conclusion I would like to say that although GDP remains the most popular index of the development of the country, it clearly has obvious disadvantages. However, changing it to GPI or any other indicator would affect numerous countries and would create a picture of the social welfare other than the one we have now.
1. Altruworld ,“Restoring and Saving our Environment”,N.d. Retrieved 30 Apr 2011 from http://www.altruworld.com/carbon.php
2. Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. R. (2008). Environment: the science behind the stories. (4th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
3. Ayacollective,“Emirates Wildlife Society WWF: UAE Ecological Footprint”( May 19, 2010). Retrieved on 30 Apr 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPiBItRoKMI