Carbon Accounting Essentials
Climate Fundamentals

Footprint and Global Impacts

May 28, 2024
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Understanding the impact human activity has on the environment is critical to measure. Without measuring the impact, change cannot be made in order to manage our global resources.

Ecological Footprint

An ecological footprint is a measurement that assesses how much of the earth’s natural environment we have left and how much we are compromising.

The footprint is a measurement of the impact of the earth’s supply (its biocapacity) and the demand (ecological footprint) of humans and their activity. It measures what we consume and the rate at which we do it. The final calculation of an ecological footprint is given in terms of “Earths”. If everyone lived as I do, it would take x number of Earths to have enough resources to sustain the world population for one year.

Check out this tool to calculate your own ecological footprint.

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is a measurement that assesses the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that a person, region, or organization produces.

The measurement of a carbon footprint accounts for many greenhouse gas emission types, such as methane or nitrous oxide. The final footprint is usually expressed as a carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e.

This carbon dioxide equivalent allows for measurements to be made across different activities and industries that would otherwise be hard to compare. Decarbonization efforts cannot be established without comparable measurements.

Global Impacts

Climate change is a global problem and the impacts will continue to be felt around the world. The activities of businesses in a specific country are not just causing changes within their own borders. The negative effects of climate change can be seen all over the world, and are affecting certain people and businesses disproportionately.

We can see the consequences of climate change in our oceans, weather, food, and health.

While humans cause these unintended consequences, we are also the ones capable of making the greatest changes in our energy sources and activities to prevent the worst effects of climate change.


Ice sheets are melting, and the extra water that was once held in solid ice (glaciers) is added to the oceans, making sea levels rise. This leads to flooding in coastal areas. Flooding can cause devastating damage to businesses’ infrastructure, destroy valuable documents, and damage technology.


Warmer temperatures also create stronger and more devastating weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. In turn, we see droughts that are longer and more frequent. Extreme weather events can hinder an employee’s ability to get to work and threaten the supply of resources like power and water.


With the changing climate, plant and animal habitats can disappear altogether. Because of this, food supplies are threatened, resulting in decreased quantity and rising costs.


Climate change affects the physical health of humans. For example, the warmer air in cities worsens air quality by trapping smog, leading to dangerous health conditions like lung cancer or asthma. Poor health conditions affect the productivity of workers and can increase the cost of business.

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