Ecological footprint refers to a measure of environmental impact created by a certain activity or practice. In the most general sense, an ecological footprint refers to the natural resources taken from, and wastes disposed back into, the surrounding ecosystem by whatever agent is said to have created the footprint by its activities.

One early and influential approach to measuring environmental impact was developed in the early 1970s during debates between Paul Ehrlich and Barry Commoner concerning the relative roles that population and consumer lifestyle play in causing environmental harms. That measure, I = PAT, held that environmental impact I, was a function of the relationship between population P, consumption and affluence A, and technology T. The concept of ecological footprint was developed as a more ecologically ...

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