The human footprint describes how humans have been changing the Earth’s surface. The footprint of humanity is visible all over the world. It is the environmental impact of an expanded human population extracting natural resources. The footprint has caused global warming and climate change.
The concept is similar to the ecological footprint. At times, it gets used as a synonym. The ecological footprint is a measure that shows how much land is needed to support the consumption of, for example, a private person. It shows how global consumption has overexploited the Earth’s resources since 1970. In other words, humans have been abusing natural resources for over 50 years.
What is the human footprint?
The human population keeps expanding. Often, this harms the environment and other species. Human activities can endanger other lifeforms and disturb or destroy essential ecosystems. For example, land transformation causes biodiversity loss. More so, activities such as deforestation destroy the home of many animals and plants. All these impacts can be considered the human footprint.
The Human Footprint map
The human footprint is also the name of a global map from 2002. It shows the human influence on the land surface. The scientists behind it present it as, more or less, a summary of all the ecological footprints of humanity. They used four factors to understand human influence. These were population, land use, travel routes and lights.
One positive way to use the human footprint map is to identify which places are homes to both sensitive species and humans. This indicates which human behaviours enable coexistence with others. Hence, it can inspire other places to change and adapt.
The human footprint on Earth is visible through climate change. Humanity has affected the planet to the point that the climate systems are changing. There are many things that one can do to reduce the footprint. For example, by supporting politicians that put the environment first and by adapting one’s lifestyle. Also, by supporting environmental projects. Continue to read about this here: ecological footprint.
Sources: WWF, NASA, BioScience