Publication Date

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


William Russell


Ecological Footprint, Economic contractions, Scenarios

Subject Areas

Environmental economics; Environmental studies


The Ecological Footprint is a useful tool for public awareness of ecological pressures and for policymakers who aim to reduce them. In order to determine the potential effects of future actions and policies, it is necessary to construct scenarios of future global conditions, both in the short-term and long-term. This study develops two alternative methods for creating Ecological Footprint scenarios: first using asymmetric changes in simple economic output (GDP) to look at short-term projections; then using widely accepted scenarios from international agencies to develop long-term projections.

Changes in GDP were found to be causal in determining changes in the Ecological Footprint, and this method can be used for "nowcasting" and projecting the future Ecological Footprint. Furthermore, it was found that the projections from different agencies can be combined under a single Ecological Footprint framework, but there are certain inconsistencies across projections that are highlighted. Lastly, the use of dynamic Ecological Footprint models based on computable general equilibrium models is explored as the preferred solution for the creation of policy-relevant tools.