20 May 2008


The Economist blog has a post on water footprints and virtual water; I wrote on them here and here, respectively.

Some commentators think that measuring people's environmental impacts is the next big thing in government control. I disagreed with this:
I think that these concepts (press releases perhaps) are useful as quantitative measures of the externalities (bad/good/neutral) associated with our activities -- and by netting out the numbers -- world trade. If the average American has a large carbon, water, etc. footprint, that indicates that Americans are using more of the environment for their lifestyles (duh!), but it also indicates the "terms of environmental trade" in a way that can be useful -- especially if carbon trading goes global.
Bottom Line: Knowledge is power -- give it to the people.


  1. Isn't "footprint" too benign of a term? Footprints are not very big thing... an environmental footprint is just small markings in the snow, in the mud, or in the forest. They get covered over pretty easily via natural processes.

    The term "footprint" doesn't really carry much IMPACT. Footprints are something that your mom may have yelled at you when you tracked mud into the house- nothing to really be concerned about.

    A new, weightier term is needed.

  2. impact zone
    death zone
    combat area
    arena of conflict
    personal displace
    MINE! (a la Rousseau)
    greed factor
    personal trough
    pie plate....

    Please DO improve on these :)


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