Posted on 7th June 2008

Nicole commented the other day, after watching the latest ACT ON CO2 advert, that whoever coined the term 'Carbon Footprint' had come up with a really good idea to get people thinking about their contributions to global warming. While I don't think that global warming can ever be changed by individual effort, I do think that pressure on manufactures to reduce packaging, or to find and use alternative forms of energy, are much more likely to offset the emissions contributing to global warming.

However, it also had me thinking about who actually did coin the term. After a bit of research, it seems widely accepted that William Rees, a Canadian environmentalist and ecologist, first coined the term "Ecological Footprint" in 1992. Although not quite the same, The Carbon Footprint is seen as a subset of issues involved with the Ecological Footprint. Rees developed a method to calculate our ecological destruction based on our consumption, and appears to have been a catalyst for changing how we look at our consumption levels. The Carbon Footprint, in most definitions looks specifically at fossil fuels, but nowhere that I've seen, actually indicates who was first to actually reference the term for that type of measurement.

Having done a bit of reading, I'm much more intrigued to see if we can change attitudes to our Ecological Footprint, as the environmental damage we are doing, especially in terms of the completely useless amount of packaging we use these days, is possibly a bigger contributor not just to the resources we use, but the amount that gets dumped to landfill. Although alot of packaging these days can be recycled, too much is just being thrown away. I'm also alarmed by the amount of fossil fuel crops we are globally producing now. A news item recently highlighted that as food crop farming has become so much less profitible, we could soon find food becoming a luxury commodity.

But back to the original question. Who did coin the term Carbon Footprint? Any ideas?


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