Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ecological Footprint

I recently used the Global Footprint Network Footprint Calculator to determine my ecological footprint. The results are shown above. As you can see, the results are nothing to brag about. We would need 4.3 Earths to support all 7 billion of us living the same lifestyle I currently do.

The majority of my footprint (67%) comes from food and services. Eating less meat and more local food could significantly reduce the footprint from food, which alone accounts for the use of 1.2 Earths. Completely cutting out beef and pork and reducing poultry, eggs, and dairy brings me down to 4 Earths. If I get half of my food locally on top of that I can reduce my footprint to 3.8 Earths. I reduce my flying to 1-4 hrs per year I drop it further to 3.5 Earths. I can also reduce electricity use to lower the service section, but this is harder to quantify here. These are reasonable steps that I should be able to implement, but it is somewhat disheartening to see how far I am from sustainability. Next I will try to get to a sustainable level of 1 Earth.

A completely vegan diet with 1/2 of my food coming locally only gets me to 3.3 Earths. Getting 3/4 of my food locally drops it to 3.2 Earths. Buying fewer furnishings drops me to 3.1 Earths. Trading my seldom driving for public transportation doesn't change the level at all. Moving to a smaller place in a multi-story apartment building only gets down to 2.9 Earths. Now I am very disheartened.

Moving to an under 550 sq ft. green design residence or multi-story apartment building with 6 other people and no electricity only gets me 2.6 Earths. Getting rid of all fossil fuel powered transportation only gets me to 2.4 Earths. Dropping furnishing and electronics purchases to the lowest level does not change the level at this point. Recycling everything and purchasing only recycled products doesn't change the level either. Okay, I can't get the number to go below 2.2 Earths. If I do everything possible, this appears to be the lower bound. That is really frustrating for people. If it is true, it means we need to reduce the world population by about 4 billion people. I'll try another one in the next week or so, and blog that experience, but this was less than optimal. I will also finish my review of Lele. I may not get back to Taylor because I don't think it's a good use of effort. It's better to focus on the positive.

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