Éléments essentiels d’un véritable indice de progrès
de notre empreinte écologique est une des composantes essentielles du Véritable
indice du progrès (VIP), un nouvel indice qui fournit des renseignements
beaucoup plus précis et complets sur notre bien-être et sur notre développement
durable que les indices actuels qui sont fondés sur le taux de croissance
économique et d’autres statistiques du marché.
C’est en exécutant de petites actions que nous arriverons à réduire
notre empreinte écologique.
For more details on the purposes, principles and framework of the Genuine
Progress Index please see the GPI
Atlantic web site.
Wilson, Jeffrey, Ronald Colman and Anne Monette, 2001. The
Ecological Footprint. GPI
. The Nova Scotia Ecological
Footprint details the environmental impact of consumption patterns,
including transportation, residential energy use, and food consumption,
including trends over time, projections to 2020 and assessments of
alternative footprint reduction options. For more information, see the GPI
Atlantic web site: www.gpiatlantic.org/.
Essential Elements of
Genuine Progress Index
footprint analysis is one of the core components of the Genuine
Progress Index (GPI), a new measure that can provide more accurate and
comprehensive information on wellbeing and sustainable development
than current measures that are based on economic growth rates and
related market statistics. GPI Atlantic is currently constructing such
an index of sustainable development for Nova Scotia.
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Conventionally, economists, politicians and journalists measure
progress according to how fast the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is
growing. The GDP simply measures the total market value of goods and
services produced, and the total amount of consumer spending. But
measuring wellbeing and progress in this way sends misleading signals.
Thus, according to the GDP, the more rapidly we deplete our resources,
the faster the economy will grow, which, in turn, is interpreted as a
sign of wellbeing and progress. In addition, more crime, sickness,
pollution, accidents and natural disasters all make the economy grow.
The GDP ignores anything that doesn't have a price tag - like
volunteer work and vital life-supporting services provided by nature.
In contrast, the GPI attempts to account for our social,
environmental and economic health. Its 22 components include natural
resource accounts, time use variables (including the value of unpaid
work and free time), and indicators of health, educational attainment,
livelihood security, equity and environmental quality.1 The GPI counts
liabilities like crime, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, sickness
and accidents as costs, rather than gains, to the economy.
Ecological footprint is one of the most essential elements of the
GPI, for four basic reasons:
- It assesses the demand side of the sustainable development
equation as well as the supply side, and places the onus for
sustainability on the consumer as well as on the producer. Most
measures of sustainable development implicitly place the onus of
change on the producer rather than the consumer. Because it
addresses the demand side of the sustainability equation and
assesses the impacts of our consumption patterns, the ecological
footprint complements other GPI components that focus on the
- It challenges the assumption that "more" is
necessarily "better." The GPI contains several
components in which "less" is frequently
"better," and a more accurate signal of societal
wellbeing. In the GPI, a smaller footprint is a sign of genuine
- It links environmental sustainability clearly and directly with
social justice and equity. Ecological footprint analysis
demonstrates the relationship between income, consumption, and
environmental impact and cuts through the illusion that we can
improve the living standards of the poor without also examining
the consumption patterns of the rich.
- It links local consumption patterns with global consequences.
Ecological footprint analysis recognizes that local consumption
practices may involve natural resource depletion far away.
The ecological footprint concept is based on the simple maxim that
all human activities depend on nature, which is the basis of all life
support functions. Nature provides the air we breathe, our food and
water, the energy we need for heat, light, transportation and to
operate our machines, and the materials we use to build our houses, to
make our clothes, and to make every other object that cycles through
the economy. Nature also acts as the dump for our waste products. The
carbon dioxide, acid gases, and particulate matter emitted by
vehicles, phosphates from detergents and fertilizers, synthetic
chemicals in plastics, paints and other artificial products, and solid
waste all end up in our environment.
The ecological footprint of any defined population (individual,
household, province, country) is the biologically productive area
- Produce the food, wood, energy and other resources that humans
- Provide room for infrastructure such as buildings and roads; and
- Absorb the wastes, carbon dioxide and other pollutants that
result from human activity.
The Nova Scotia Ecological Footprint2 reveals that the area
required to sustain Nova Scotia resource use and waste production is
8.1 hectares per person. This corresponds to the size of 20 football
fields put together or three city blocks per person. In other words,
Nova Scotians require 7.6 million hectares of land to support their
consumption levels - almost one and a half times larger than the
geographical area of the entire province. Nova Scotia's ecological
footprint of 8.1 hectares/capita is 5% larger than the Canadian
ecological footprint of 7.7 hectares/capita. Figure 1 shows the Nova
Scotia footprint relative to the Canadian average footprint and the
footprints of other nations.
Figure 1. Global Ecological Footprint Sizes
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Treading Lightly: We
Can Reduce our Footprint
The current Nova Scotian ecological footprint of 8.1 hectares per
person is clearly not sustainable. To secure a healthy, vibrant future
for future generations, individuals, businesses, and government can
use the ecological footprint concept to accept full responsibility for
current policy and consumption choices and take the necessary actions
to reduce our footprint. The Nova Scotia Ecological Footprint
report lists some basic suggestions to help us reduce ecological
Walk and ride a
bicycle whenever possible.
Car-pool or take public
transportation to work instead of driving alone.
Keep vehicles well
Buy locally grown and
Consume the number of
calories that are appropriate for our age and level of activity.
Eat more grains and
vegetables, and less meat products.
Reduce, reuse, recycle,
Reduce household energy
use by turning off lights and replacing burned out bulbs with halogen
or compact fluorescent bulbs; turning down the temperature at night
and when not home; hanging out the laundry to dry; insulating walls
and roofs; and investing in energy efficient appliances.
Select a fuel efficient
model when buying a car, and avoid SUVs, minivans, light trucks and
other fuel-inefficient vehicles.
Live close to work or
work in close proximity to where we live.
Grow a food garden.
Taking such small actions, and others recommended in The Nova
Scotia Ecological Footprint report, will significantly reduce our
ecological footprint. If all Nova Scotians took just a few of these
simple steps, many of which can improve our health, wellbeing and
quality of life, we can quickly reduce individual, provincial, and
national ecological footprints.