Finding Australia’s biocapacity

We currently need 1.75 Earths to sustain Earth’s population. Last year, the world ran through a year’s worth of resources on the 29th of July. If everyone in the world lived like Australians, we’d use more than the Earth can renew in a year by the 23rd of March.

You’ve probably heard these numbers before – or numbers like them. You’ve probably also heard of the term “ecological footprint”. But how are these numbers figured out, and who came up with them?

Dr Mathis Wackernagel, now director of the Global Footprint Network, coined the term ‘ecological footprint’ in the early 1990s, along with his PhD supervisor, Professor William Rees.

But while he popularised the term – and now leads the network that tracks biocapacity – he says he didn’t invent it. Biocapacity has always existed, and he merely described it.

Cosmos sat down with Wackernagel to learn more about biocapacity and how it’s calculated.

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