More footprint folly

In: Uncategorized

24 Oct 2006

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published its latest Living Planet Report (PDF), its biennial statement on the state of the natural world. Its Living Planet Index suggests that global biodiversity has declined by 30% since 1970 and its Ecological Footprint indicates that the UK is living a “three planet lifestyle”.

WWF’s UK website welcomes the adoption of these ideas by the British government but argues it needs to go much further:

“The good news is that the language of One Planet Living is being rapidly and widely taken up by people including David Miliband, Secretary of State for the Environment. However a commitment to One Planet Living must include a commitment by the UK government to adopt Ecological Footprint as a sustainable development indicator and set targets for year on year reduction.”

As previously argued on this website the ecological footprint is essentially a tautology (see 9 October 2006 dispatch). In reality, to the extent it makes sense to talk of an “ecological footprint”, it changes as the efficiency of resource use increases. But this and the discussion of biodiversity deserve a more thorough critique.