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Another View: U.S. has an ecological deficit

The U.S. is using more natural resources than can be regenerated within its borders, according to a new report by international think tank Global Footprint Network.

The report, “State of the States: A New Perspective on the Wealth of Our Nation,” said the nation is using twice the renewable natural resources than are available within its borders.

“With domestic and global pressure increasing on natural resources, it’s more important than ever to manage them carefully,” GFN president Mathis Wackernagel said.

Which states need to start managing their ecological budgets? All of them.

“Although the United States is one of the richest nations in the world in terms of natural capital, it is running an ecological deficit,” the report stated. “U.S. citizens demand twice the renewable natural resources and services that are available within our nation’s borders. Yet the economic vitality of our nation depends on these valuable ecological assets.”

The U.S. has the second-largest share of the world’s overall ecological footprint, trailing only China, whose population is more than four times that of our great country. The total footprint of the U.S. also is nearly twice that of India, although nearly four times as many people live in India.

The GFN found the states with the largest per-person ecological footprints are Virginia, Maryland and Delaware; the states with the smallest are New York, Idaho and Arkansas.

The ecological footprint measures a population’s demand for plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Louisiana is about in the middle. The Bayou State’s natural resources include varied ecosystems and environments, from oak forest to cypress swamp. We have extremely fertile soil and a long growing season conducive to agriculture. Our state is rich in wetlands and has sizable reserves of oil, natural gas, salt and sulfur. Because Louisiana values natural capital – such as the benefits of wetlands for buffering hurricanes, providing water, reducing floods and increasing fish – GFN said the state is on the right track in developing solutions to the ecological deficit.

“Cities, states and nations shape this future every time they spend taxpayer money, particularly on longer-term projects such as energy and water infrastructure, transportation networks, housing, flood protection and land conservation,” the report stated. “Tools that recognize the value of ecological assets in the same way that we value infrastructure are needed to guide leaders at all levels of government.”

We need to create a resilient future for our children and grandchildren and do our part now.

That’s the only way to ensure Sportsman’s Paradise will continue to exist.

– Lake Charles, Louisiana American Press

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