Why Earth Overshoot Day And The Ecological Footprint Are Pseudoscientific Nonsense

Ecological Footprint principle is pseudoscience on par with astrology, phrenology, and flat earth theories.


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Starting as we speak by means of the top of the yr, humankind will begin consuming extra assets than our planet can sustainably produce, in line with the Global Footprint Network (GFN), which has been organizing such days since 1986.

“Humanity is using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate,” says the group. “This is akin to using 1.75 Earths.”

Rich nations “overshoot” their assets earlier than poorer ones, in line with GFN. The US, Australia, Denmark and Canada overshoot earlier than the top of March, whereas Cuba, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Ecuador do not overshoot till December.

“Earth Overshoot Day” relies on one thing referred to as the “Ecological Footprint,” which is utilized by the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

But is the Ecological Footprint good science? It’s not.

Six years in the past I helped debunk Earth Overshoot Day and the Ecological Footprint calculation it is based mostly upon in a paper for the peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS Biology referred to as “Does the Shoe Fit? Real vs. Imagined Footprints.”

We broke down the six measures that comprise the Ecological Footprint and discovered that 5 of the six, together with meals and forestry, had been both in stability or surplus. The solely factor out-of-balance had been humankind’s carbon emissions.

But fixing that drawback would not require that wealthy nations grow to be poor — or that poor nations stay poor — however merely that we transfer towards power sources that do not produce carbon emissions, a course of often called “decarbonization.”

And the one two instances of countries considerably decarbonizing their power provides, France and Sweden, did so not by changing into poor however relatively by changing into far richer because of using nuclear power. Today, France spends little greater than half as a lot as Germany to provide electrical energy that produces one-tenth of the carbon emissions, because of nuclear.

How did the creators of the Ecological Footprint cover what they’d finished? By implying that the way in which to resolve local weather change is by increasing forest cowl to soak up industrial carbon emissions.

All of the supposed “overshoot” of assets is from carbon emissions that the Footprint converts into forest space wanted to offset the emissions.  The Footprint thus leads readers to disregard all the opposite methods of absorbing or by no means emitting CO2.

It will get worse. Different forests take in carbon dioxide at totally different charges over time. But the Ecological Footprint arbitrarily chooses a single quantity to characterize the speed of carbon uptake for all forests all over the world all the time. The Ecological Footprint methodology is finest often called “garbage in, garbage out.”

The implication of the Ecological Footprint is thus both that everybody in rich developed nations just like the US, Europe, and Australia ought to attempt to reside like Cubans and Nicaraguans, or that we should always convert all the world’s old-growth forests to fast-growing tree farms.

When we revealed our paper in 2013, it was extensively lined within the media, together with by Scientific American, New Science, and Le Monde, however that hasn’t stopped the European Commission and different governmental our bodies from recognizing “Earth Overshoot Day” on social media.

The Ecological Footprint and Earth Overshoot Day had been created on the similar time that Western European nations and the United Nations embraced a neo-Malthusian strategy to environmental issues. 

Ironically, the UN promoted using wooden fuels over nuclear. In a 1987 report referred to as “Our Common Future,” the UN denounced nuclear power and insisted that poor nations ought to use wooden gas extra sustainably. “The wood-poor nations must organize their agricultural sectors to produce large amounts of wood and other plant fuels.”

The lead creator of “Our Common Future” was Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, a nation which only a decade earlier had grow to be fabulously rich because of its considerable oil and gasoline reserves.

Figures like Brundtland promoted the concept that poor nations didn’t have to devour a lot power, which turned out to be howlingly incorrect. Energy consumption is as tightly coupled to per capita GDP as we speak because it was when as we speak’s wealthy nations had been themselves poor.

There is not any wealthy nation that relies upon totally on wooden for power, simply as there is no such thing as a poor nation that relies upon totally on fossil fuels or nuclear.

The Ecological Footprint has as a lot scientific benefit as astrology, phrenology, and flat-earth theories. It’s time to deal with the Ecological Footprint because the pseudoscientific principle it’s.

Source link Forbes.com

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