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Ecological footprints and international trade To ecological economists, the most compelling fact is that we are living in a “full world.” Rapid population growth and mass consumption have transformed humanity into a colossal user of nature’s services. Our “ecological footprint” – the area we require for our consumption and waste absorption – has become so big that ecosystems are being destroyed, species are dying out, climate is changing and people are losing the potential to pursue their traditional livelihoods. One of the most ambitious attempts to quantify all this is the Living Planet Report, published every two years by the World Wildlife Fund. According to the WWF’s analysis, humanity’s ecological footprint (EF) exceeded the biological capacity (biocapacity) of the earth by about 1985. As of the beginning of this millennium, the “ecological overshoot” is calculated at about 20 per cent. (See box on page 50 for definitions of these concepts.)

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