Ecological debt

Ecological debt

Ecological debt is a term used to describe an imbalance between one's perceived "fair share" of natural resources and one's actual usage of those resources.

If you take more than your fair share of the earth's finite natural resources you run up an ecological debt. If you have a lifestyle that pushes an ecosystem beyond its ability to renew itself, you run up an ecological debt.

Global warming is probably the clearest example of an ecological debt. First World countries have become very rich by burning up our finite inheritance of fossil fuels, which has triggered climate change. Other parts of the world like Bangladesh, the South Pacific Islands and sub Saharan Africa are set to suffer excessively from global warming.

Around 80 per cent of the global economy still depends on coal, oil and gas and demand keeps rising. But, because we must burn less of these to stop climate change, the distribution of wealth in a carbon constrained world economy is the most fundamental issue we face.

A more specific concept developed in the context of global warming is greenhouse debt.

Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop has made the following statement about the concept: 'Now we're all going to be talking about our ecological debt. A new phrase has entered the language.'



[ Ecological debt: the health of the planet and the wealth of nations] , Andrew Simms, Pluto books, 2005


[ Towards a Level Playing Field, Repaying Ecological Debt, or Making Environmental Space: Three Stories about International Environmental Cooperation, Osgoode Hall Law Journal,2005, VOL 43; NUMB 1/2, pages 137-170]
[ Elaboration of the concept of ecological debt, Centre for Sustainable Development, Ghent University, 2004]
[ Credit Where it's Due: The Ecological Debt Education Project, Friends of the Earth Scotland, 2003]
[ Who owes who?: Climate change, debt, equity and survival, Christian Aid, 1999]

External links

[ Global Footprint Network - Ecological Debt Day]
[ New Economics Foundation - Ecological Debt Day]
[ European Network for the recognition of the Ecological Debt]
[ World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 - Ecological Debt] [ Who owes who?] , a movie

ee also

*Carbon footprint
*Carrying capacity
*Ecological economics
*Ecological footprint
*Limits to Growth

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