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Principle 2: Ecological Footprints and One Planet Thinking
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The green space is teeming these days with lengthy and complex explanations about the meaning of sustainability. But from that wealth of information, two exceptionally simple methods emerge for understanding what such a planet would actually look like, and how we can get there. Ecological Footprint and One Planet both frame human impact in terms of physical space. One indicates the space we exploit through our consumption patterns, and the other indicates the space we have to share -- equitably and permanently -- as a global population, if we intend to sustain life on Earth. The concepts distill daunting challenges into individual goals: If we can each shape our own footprints such that they never exceed what the planet can support, we'll accelerate our progress exponentially.

Winning the Great Wager -- A shrinking planet, a growing population: How do we redesign the world and achieve sustainable prosperity for every person living here?

Ecological Handprints -- While we work furiously to reduce our ecological footprints, we might consider the possibility that instead of simply reducing or eliminating the damage we cause, we might act in ways that actively heal and reverse it, leaving in those places an "ecological handprint."

Letter from Japan: Prosperity Within Limits -- Japan is a nation of great wealth and limited space. What does the need to balance their prosperous industry with precious little land mean for Japan's future as a pioneer in sustainable innovation?

Happy Planet Index -- What's the correlation between our ecological footprint and our overall happiness? The Happy Planet Index ranks nations according to both of these measurements, demonstrating that a low-impact life can be a happy one. But there might be a few more accurate ways of measuring and showing that small footprint = good life.

Green Flight -- A large portion of the footprint of people from wealthy nations consists of the heavy-duty impact of air travel. Designing new aircraft engines could help make air travel more sustainable.

Zerofootprint -- Zerofootprint was one of the early players in offsets for personal consumption. Today their website is full of resources and their services have been used widely (even by Worldchanging!)

London 2012: The World's First One-Planet Olympics -- Few events are more powerful in drawing the world's attention to a single spot on the globe (for positive reasons) than the Olympics. Which means the Olympics have a unique opportunity to be a model for change in the world. London has big plans for the 2012 Olympics to demonstrate that great traditions can be adapted to 21st century circumstances.

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The part that troubles me is that while we are one planet, various countries (and people) are at different stages in their " development lifecycles". We have learned a lot from the past 50-60 years. The question is, what can we do to make sure that other countries don't make the same mistakes that the western world made without coming across as trying to suppress progress in the developing world?

Posted by: Deepak on 8 May 07

Deepak, that's another concept which might make it into the "21 principles": leapfrogging.

Or frogleaping, as the case may be.

Being open to "practically learning" (i.e., changing our actions and not just our minds) from each other and from every success and failure and dream and what-not.

Posted by: lugon on 8 May 07

"Rootprint" is another concept we have created at SocialWay that captures the reduction of ecological footprint through sharing and reuse. The carbon emission saved is converted to equivalent number of trees "grown".

SocialWay - the eco friendly sharing movement

Posted by: Nita Goyal on 9 May 07

I wonder if it isn't leapfrogging so much as bootstrapping. By providing developing nations with a collection of mistakes not to make and how they come about you would be more lifting people by their bootstraps rather then leaping them ahead. They still climb the climb, every step of the way but with a climb map provided by those who have gone before and found the pitfalls. I think the metaphor of leapfrogging takes away from the idea of each country developing at their own rate but without jumping important steps.

Posted by: Heather O'Malley on 14 May 07



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