Nurturing Solidarity through Ecology:
The Use of Footprint-Based Indices
Graduate Program on Environment and Urban Studies,
Soegijapranata Catholic University
Driven by the need for a tool to compare the extent of current depletion of ecosystem’s products or services between various human activities as well as geographical areas the past decade has witnessed a prolific derivation and utilization of footprint based environmental indices (FEIs). Scientists, activists and policy makers engaged with environmental issues are all now familiar with FEIs, such as ecological footprints, carbon footprints, water footprints and virtual water. The most distinctive feature of FEIs is their comparability. FEIs facilitate a quantitative and yet simple comparison of environmental burden of different human activities - expressed in terms of “consumption” of ecosystem’s components (water, land, carbon, etc). Although several critics have pointed out FEIs’ weaknesses, their quantitative and straight-forward nature, however, keep them exciting in practice. Ecology is not just an academic and scientific discipline. It also serves as an ethical principle. In ecology, coexistence is regarded as the most important aspect of life. One core value to support coexistence is solidarity. It is therefore imperative to promote the value of solidarity in ecological study. Comparison of one or more FEIs values among countries as well as among contrasting segments of population within a country may serve as an excellent trigger for awareness of ecological-solidarity. To optimize the nurture of solidarity through the ecological study the use of service-learning methodology is a viable option.
Keywords: FEIs - ecology – service learning - solidarity