footprint is essentially a measure of how much land is required to support your personal lifestyle
. There was a questionnaire for calculating it
in the NewScientist Global Environment
Supplement, which I used to figure out my ecological footprint. Initially, I had thought of my ecological footprint as a warm brown indentation in rich soft soil, thinking "vegetarian
, can't drive, hasn't bought anything new in about a million years" would get me by.
Wrong. I now see my shoddily-clad footprint as more like a gigantic pneumatic robot's foot, scudding down through layers of cloud and obliterating a cowering group of fly-blown, malnourished malarial villagers somewhere in South America. Well, not quite that bad. But about as irresistable. My lifestyle, 'minimal' though it is, uses so much land that we would require one extra planet Earth if everybody in the world were to be supported at the same level. Simply by going about my daily business, I am draining resources from people who have no choice whatsoever in the matter, sucking them through a bloody great pipe made of money and greased with animal fat and crude oil, and then shitting them out in huge steaming lumps to be shoveled up by a minimum-wage prole shit-shoveler, who takes them in his van into the country and buries them there, and wishes somebody could do something about the endless stream of shit that is his life, but the Labour Unions all got gutted long ago and nobody even attended the funeral. Big radioactive turds that nothing grows on.
This is without any heating, with no meat in my diet, no car, no holiday, no expenditure on books or magazines, a shared flat, nil trips to McDonald's each year, and membership of the youth branch of my country's Green Party. I thought I was doing pretty good by the planet. I live at one quarter the average North American standard - there's things going on over there that require an extra four planet Earths to keep everyone at their average.
Don't get me wrong. It's probably easy enough to have a good quality life while at the same time not screwing two-thirds of humanity over. I can see all sorts of ways that I could live better on about the same level of ecological impact, most of which revolve around getting out more. But good, large-scale alternatives are hard, hard, hard to come by. Try finding out the sorts of skills and information you need to live a sustainable life, it's extremely hard to find everything you're going to need.
Maybe I'm just essentially optimistic about human nature, but I can't help but think that this hurdle is a big part of what's keeping people from living well. This lack of information jades my perception of media, of education, of government. As Noam Chomsky said, not a single major world government has any serious plan to stop the degradation of the environment.
This is happening now, while most of the people reading this website live lives of luxury that I'm sure they're unwilling to give up. Not even to save the world. Well, there's enough resources for us all to be warm, well-fed, and entertained. There's enough information to figure out how. What's up?