Whether we are talking about a carbon footprint or an ecological one. Each of them requires us to use more sustainable practices to help save the planet.

If we continue going down the path of damaging the environment, it will be our future generations that suffer the consequences.

Let’s take a look at what each term means and also some examples of how we can help make a difference.

What Is An Ecological Footprint?

The ecological footprint is the impact of human actions measured in terms of the amount of biologically productive land and water required to generate the products consumed and assimilate the waste generated.

What Is Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that come from the production, use, and disposal of a product or service.

Related: Why Is a Carbon Footprint Bad for the Environment?

Causes of carbon footprint

Food, Agri-food, agriculture, transportation, and household energy are the four areas in which carbon footprints are measured.

Livestock

Meat is a significant source of carbon emissions because of its direct effect on food production.

Livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions due to its influence on agricultural production.

With the increase of methane and nitrous oxide, the livestock sector is responsible for about 14.5 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases.

In addition to its contribution to global warming, livestock also emits large quantities of other pollutants such as ammonia and nitrogen oxides.

Transport

The transportation sector is another major contributor to carbon footprints.

The burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

  • 35% of Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) emissions
  • 13% of Particulate Matter (PM2. 5) emissions came from transport.
  • 12% of NOX emissions came from cars alone

Household energy use is another significant source of carbon footprints.

Related: How Much Carbon Emissions Come From Cars? (A LOT!!)

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling our homes and businesses is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

In the United States, residential and commercial buildings account for about 20 percent of all energy use and generate about 17 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Appliances

Another significant contributor to our carbon footprint is the appliances we use in our homes and businesses.

The average yearly electricity consumption for a typical U.S. residential utility client in 2020 was 10,715 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 893 kWh each month on average.

Louisiana had the highest annual energy use at 14,407 kWh per household, while Hawaii had the lowest at 6,446 kWh per home (Eia.gov).

Related: How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Ecological Footprint And Carbon Footprint (Are They The Same?)

No, they are not the same. An ecological footprint, as previously said, compares the total resources used by people to the land and water area required to replenish those resources.

A carbon footprint, on the other hand, focuses only on greenhouse gases produced as a result of the usage of fossil fuels.

How Are Ecological Footprint And Carbon Footprint Related?

They are related in the sense that they are both measures of human impact on the environment.

The ecological footprint can be seen as a more comprehensive measure because it includes all human-caused environmental impacts, while the carbon footprint only focuses on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Importance Of Reducing Our Ecological and Carbon Footprints

There are ten reasons why it is important to reduce ecological footprint:

  • Mitigates the effects of global climate change.
  • Improves public health.
  • Boosts the global economy.
  • Maintains biodiversity.
  • To promote economic development.
  • Slow the impact of rising sea levels.
  • A decrease in vector-borne diseases.
  • Prolong the life of protective species.
  • Decrease the number of droughts.
  • Decrease Poverty and displacement.

Mitigates the effects of global climate change

Climate change should be important to every individual. It is a global problem that will affect everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that human activities are the main cause of climate change since the mid-20th century.

Reducing our ecological footprint can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Improves public health

A large ecological footprint often goes hand in hand with environmental pollution, which can have a negative impact on public health.

Reducing our ecological footprint can help to improve air and water quality, which would lead to better public health.

Boosts the global economy

A large ecological footprint often leads to resource depletion, which can have a negative impact on the global economy.

Reducing our ecological footprint can help to preserve resources, which would lead to a boost in the global economy.

Maintains biodiversity

Biodiversity is essential for the health of ecosystems. A large ecological footprint often leads to habitat loss, which can have a negative impact on biodiversity.

Reducing our ecological footprint can help to preserve habitat, which would lead to the maintenance of biodiversity.

To promote economic development

A large ecological footprint often leads to environmental degradation, which can have a negative impact on economic development.

Reducing our ecological footprint can help to preserve the environment, which would lead to the promotion of economic development.

Slow the impact of rising sea-levels

The vast majority of the population is not affected by rising sea levels. But, it is still an environmental issue that needs to be addressed.

Rising sea levels are a result of climate change, and they can have a negative impact on coastal communities and ecosystems.

Reducing our carbon footprint can help to slow the impact of rising sea levels.

A decrease in vector-borne diseases

Vector-borne diseases are diseases that are transmitted by vectors, such as mosquitoes.

Some vector-borne diseases include malaria, dengue fever, and the Zika virus.

A large carbon footprint often leads to environmental degradation, which can increase the breeding ground for vectors.

Reducing our carbon footprint can help to reduce the breeding ground for vectors, which would lead to a decrease in vector-borne diseases.

Prolong the life of protective species

Protective species are species that help to protect ecosystems.

Some examples of protective species include coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses.

A large carbon footprint often leads to environmental degradation, which can have a negative impact on protective species.

Reducing our carbon footprint can help to preserve the environment, which would lead to the prolonging of the life of protective species.

Decrease the number of droughts

Droughts are periods of time when there is little or no rainfall.

A large carbon footprint often leads to climate change, which can increase the frequency and intensity of droughts.

Reducing our carbon footprint can help to slow the impact of climate change, which would lead to a decrease in the number of droughts.

Decrease Poverty and displacement

Poverty is a state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.

Unfortunately, an increase in poverty normally means an increase in a country’s carbon footprint.

Reducing our carbon footprint can help to slow the impact of climate change, which would lead to a decrease in poverty and displacement.

FAQs

Which one is more important? Carbon footprint or ecological?

There is no easy answer when it comes to which one is more important. Both carbon footprint and ecological footprints are important in different ways. Carbon footprints are important because they contribute to climate change. Ecological footprints are important because they contribute to resource depletion and environmental degradation.

What is the biggest contributor to my carbon footprint?

The answer to this question will vary from person to person. However, some of the most common contributors to carbon footprints include transportation, electricity usage, and home heating and cooling.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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