The key difference between ecological footprint and carbon footprint is that the ecological footprint measures the human demand on the earth’s ecological capacity while the carbon footprint measures the human impact on the environment with the amount of greenhouse gases produced in units of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Today both the scientific and the corporate community refer to the term ‘footprint’ as a measure or an accounting tool to calculate the demand on the nature of the consumer community. The footprint assessments tract the impacts on the resource supply by the activity of people in the past. Consequently, it helps to gauge the demand with the resource availability in the future. In this context, the most talk about tools for such a measurement is the Ecological Footprint and the Carbon Footprint. However, from this article, you can get a better idea of how these separate gauges help to calculate the demand of human activity on natural resources.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Ecological Footprint
3. What is Carbon Footprint
4. Similarities Between Ecological Footprint and Carbon Footprint
5. Side by Side Comparison – Ecological Footprint vs Carbon Footprint in Tabular Form
What is Ecological Footprint?
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It essentially measures the supply and demand of goods and services for an entire planet by assuming that the whole planetary population follows a specific lifestyle of a known person/group of people.
Moreover, the estimate for the ecological footprint begins with the calculation of the land, water/sea needed to support the particular food, shelter, mobility, and goods and services need of a person in a particular region. However, this estimation changes with the area that person lives. It is because the ecosystems vary in their ability to produce useful biological materials and to absorb CO2, which is called the biocapacity. The results are given in the number of planet Earths it would take to support humanity if everybody follows the estimated lifestyle.
What is Carbon Footprint?
The carbon footprint, on the other hand, represents the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission to the environment throughout a particular period of time by a person or an organization. It takes into account the amount of GHG emitted in the units of CO2 equivalents. It gives an idea about the impact on the planet that results from burning fossil fuels.
The carbon footprint is the rapidly-growing component of humanity’s overall ecological footprint; it is 54 % of overall Ecological Footprint. However, it doesn’t mention the strive it takes to offset the effect of GHGs once released to the atmosphere. The main aim of this calculation is to make people aware of the need for reducing their carbon output. Reducing the carbon output is possible by increasing the home’s energy efficiency and burning less fossil fuel for the day to day activities.
What are the Similarities Between Ecological Footprint and Carbon Footprint?
- The ecological footprint and the carbon footprint are two matrices developed to measure the impact of human activity on the environment.
- The carbon footprint represents the most rapidly growing and most destructive portion of the ecological footprint.
- Both deal with resources usage.
- Also, these measurements direct us to take effective actions to minimize impacts on the environment, changing lifestyles, and industrial productions.
What is the Difference Between Ecological Footprint and Carbon Footprint?
Ecological footprint and carbon footprint are two measurements that describe resource usage and impacts of human activities on the environment. The ecological footprint describes all human activities, the resources utilized and the wastage from these activities. On the other hand, the carbon footprint takes into account only the activities related to greenhouse gas emission. These include activities such as fossil fuel burning, consumption of electricity, etc. Therefore, this is the key difference between ecological footprint and carbon footprint.
Moreover, carbon footprint gives the raw amount of carbon emission in tonnes per year as an outcome. On the contrary, ecological footprint gives the values of land and water area needed to replace the consumed resources. Hence, it is another difference between ecological footprint and carbon footprint. Furthermore, the carbon footprint aims to reduce the impact on the environment by reducing global warming and evading catastrophes such as climatic change. On the other hand, the ecological footprint takes all problems of the environment and aims for sustainable development.
Reducing the carbon footprint is the foremost step in reducing the overrun consumption of resources. But, to get an overall idea of the true impact, which addresses issues such as overfishing, overgrazing and deforestation, we require the ecological footprint. Most importantly, statutory bodies should use both these calculators to manage their resources and secure their future.
Below is an infographic on the difference between ecological footprint and carbon footprint.
Summary – Ecological Footprint vs Carbon Footprint
Ecological footprint and carbon footprint are two matrices that evaluate the impact of human activities on the environment. In summarizing the difference between ecological footprint and carbon footprint, the ecological footprint measures the human demand on the Earth’s ecological capacity. On the other hand, carbon footprint measures the total amount of greenhouse gas emission in the units of CO2 equivalents. Also, carbon footprint directs people to minimize greenhouse gas emissions while ecological footprint addresses people to avoid the exploitation of resources.