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The Voice of Organics in the Atlantic!
Holistic Health Directory
Sustainability 101
Environmental Preservation
Calculating Our Ecological Footprint
The Ecological Footprint, developed by UBC Professor Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, is a revolutionary new way to calculate the environmental impact our species has on the planet. It is based on the biological concept of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is defined as “the population of a given species that a habitat can support indefinitely.” If we apply this calculation to humans and our global habitat, we can calculate the amount of productive land that is available to each of us if we all get the same share. The total land area of the earth is just over 13 billion hectares, of which about 9 billion is productive cropland, pasture or forest. The world population is 6 billion, so there is about 1.5 hectares of land for each of us. However, as Rees and Wackernagel point out in their book, the average Canadian requires about 5 hectares of land and natural resource to support our lifestyle. This includes the amount of land needed to produce our food, the wood to build our homes, the trees to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted by our fossil fuel use., etc. If the entire world consumed resources at the rate of the average Canadian, the total requirement would be 30 billion hectares, more than three times the productive capacity of our global ecosphere. However, different classes of people use land at very different rates, primarily depending on their monetary income. The good news is that with relatively minor adjustments to our lifestyles, Rees and Wackernagel demonstrate how we can drastically reduce our "ecological footprint" (the land area needed to sustain us throughout our lives). To find out more about this fascinating concept and to learn how you can tread more lightly on the earth check out the book "Our Ecological Footprint" by Bill Reese and Mathis Wackernagel available at your local library.

Growing Organic Helps to Protect Our Soil
The International Food Policy Research Institute has just released a study showing that 40% of the world’s agricultural soil is seriously degraded due to the following:

- erosion (a result of industrial mono-cropping and farming on
  slopes),
- nutrient depletion (due to chemical fertilizers),
- salinization (from excess irrigation).

This degradation has significantly lowered the productivity of 16% of the world’s farmland, including 75% of farmland in Central America and 20% in Africa.

The good news is that soil degradation can be reversed with careful land management the kind that is second nature to organic growers (e.g. inter-cropping, using manure or compost instead of chemical fertilizers, careful use of water, etc. It just shows how important your decision to buy organic is to the health of our global soil. Thanks for helping to protect our soil!


 
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