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Entries in ecological footprint (4)


Wanted: Earnest Seekers to Answer "How Can Our Footprint Ecologically Fit Our Planet?"

Our OneEarthIn the past week, two different groups discussing my book, Blinded by Progress, have asked me the question: “How can I have a footprint that is 1.0, i.e., that uses no more than the resources of one planet?” The OneEarth Project joins with all earnest seekers to answer that question, but does not yet have the answer. We do, however, know that (1) earnest seekers need to develop the depth of consciousness and soul to face and deconstruct MultiEarth living, and (2) practice and teach lifestyles, business models, policies, and economic models that tilt toward or embody OneEarth living in every way we can.

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Why You Need to Know Your Footprint Size

Want to contribute something simple to the movement for OneEarth living? Know your footprint size and, in every appropriate conversation, ask people about theirs. Knowing your ecological footprint size gives you your baseline from which to make new choices for OneEarth living. Without that knowledge, we will inevitably make assumptions and live without putting our feet down firmly on Earth.

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The Casino: Living on 1 Planet while Gambling as if We're on 5

Think of this! If all seven billion people on Earth lived according to the average American, five planets would be required. Go ahead! Check it out! Go to the Global Footprint Network website and use their calculator. Of the many footprint calculators on the web, the Global Footprint Network sets the standard.

The network tells us that in order for all of Earth’s people to achieve the standards of European societies, as many as four planets are required. Or if you lump our species all together globally, from richest to poorest, then we demand 1.4 times from nature what she annually regenerates. This means that by early fall of recent years we began using resources beyond what Earth’s ecosystems produced in that year. I was shocked to learn of a study published in 2011 in the Marine Ecology Progress Series that determined we will need 27 planets by 2050 if we cannot greatly improve on what our living practices were in 2011. My mind stumbles before these impacts on Earth’s ecosystems from human population, overconsumption, and inefficient resource use. Our species, so capable of enormous good, continues to play in a high stakes casino game headed for self-destruction.


Starting Point: Let's Calculate Our Ecological Footprints

No matter which ecological footprint calculator I use, the results come out the same: I use more of Earth’s ecosystems annually than what they generate. My lifestyle is too big for our one planet. So, I use more than my share, depriving others of theirs. I take advantage of the economic and political systems that privilege me over other people. But not only people, I also endanger the habitats of animals and plants. The Earth Day Network footprint calculator tells me I’m requiring 3.7 planets. Ouch! A similar calculator at the Center for Sustainable Economics doesn’t soothe me either. Its criteria calculate me at 3.59 Earths. Their website explains how science continually updates the metrics by which footprints are calculated to assure the greatest accuracy possible.

How can my footprint be so large? I’m trying so hard to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink. A recent decision that my spouse, Juanita, and I made is just one example. When we faced $1000 or more of repairs to our 1998 Honda Civic, we opted for a previously owned 2004 Toyota Prius, upping our miles per gallon from 34 to 50. But there’s no getting around those footprint calculations. When I look at myself in their mirror, who do I see? I see a Multi Earther, a conqueror of Eden.

Deep within me lives the unshakeable conviction that Earth generates abundance for all life on the planet, not just for me, and not just for my family or my country — not even just for humans, but for all animals and plants. A share of that abundance belongs to each of us. It’s that share that I want to learn about and live with. Not 3.7 of the shares. How I’ve come to this point, and my quest to change, is what this blog is about.