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Ecological Footprint

The term ecological footprint refers to the overall human impact on the ecosystem and measures the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain the consumption patterns and absorb the wastes on an annual basis of individuals, nations, or industries. The term was coined in academic publications by William Rees of the University of British Columbia and his doctoral candidate Mathis Wackernagel in the early 1990s and later expanded in their 1996 book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. The figurative use of “footprint” was inspired by a computer technician's reference to a new computer's small footprint and calls to mind the prescription, attributed to indigenous peoples, to “walk softly on the Earth.” Other related “footprint” terms have followed.

Typically, the ...

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