Today, society has become aware that its daily actions have an effect on the global environment. One way to measure this impact is by determining the ecological footprint of a person, household, or business. An ecological footprint measures to what extent an activity uses productive land and sea resources versus how much land and sea is available. These two resources are important as their use is required for food, water, timber, mining, energy, and infrastructure. It is measured in global hectares per person.The larger the footprint, the less ecologically or sustainably responsible is the activity. Which countries produce the largest ecological footprint has been up for debate for some time. This article clears that up with a list of the highest ecological footprint producing nations. The results may be surprising.
Highest Ecological Footprints
The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates occupies the number one spot on this list. The ecological footprint is 10.68 gha/pers. The majority of resource demands come from households and their energy use. Other factors contribute to this large number. The Dubai Executive Flight Service catered to over 6,000 private jet flights in one year. Taxis are more popular than public transportation. “The World” project, which seeks to create islands shaped like all the world continents, has used 34 million tons of rock. Once complete, homeowners will only be able to arrive via boat or private jet. That said, the country has created a task force to understand and reduce its energy consumption.
The second highest ecological footprint is Qatar. It follows close behind the UAE with a footprint of 10.51 gha/pers. It is necessary to take into account the small population size of the country, however. One of the biggest contributors to this number is the amount of water consumed followed by energy used. How can residents afford to use such high levels of energy? The answer is simple. The government provides free energy for nationals and heavily subsidized energy for everybody else.
Number 3 on the list is Bahrain with an ecological footprint of 10.04 gha/pers. This number can be been explained by the heavy dependence on fossil fuels, low levels of environmental education, and extravagant lifestyles in Bahrain.
The Countries Of The Western World
Other countries on the list are outside of the Middle East. These include Denmark (8.26 gha/pers), Belgium (8 gha/pers), United States (8 gha/pers), Estonia (7.88 gha/pers), Canada (7.01 gha/pers), Australia (6.84 gha/pers), and Iceland (6.5 gha/pers).
What Can Be Done?
The first step in reducing the ecological footprints of these countries has already been taken. That is knowing and understanding the modifications needed to reduce the ecological footprint. After this step, the next most important action to take is reducing carbon emissions. This reduction can happen through education initiatives aimed at residents to encourage a reduction in energy usage. Countries can also invest in renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Those nations that are going through building booms, like the UAE, can focus their construction efforts on green building designs as well. These are building that have been built according to resource efficient standards and uses sustainable and local building materials. The answer is easy. Taking action, however, requires commitment and a mutual effort.