How many Earths would it take?

As part of my Urban Ecology class a few weeks ago, we were asked to test our ecological footprint on My Footprint. An ecological footprint is the amount of land and ocean area needed in order to sustain a particular lifestyle. For us to be sustainable, since there are about 7 billion people on the planet, each person’s ecological footprint would have to be 1/7,000,000,000 of the Earth’s surface. The quiz on My Footprint tells you your ecological footprint in the form of how many Earths we would need if everyone lived like you. If everyone had a similar lifestyle to me, we would need 4.93 Earths to sustain our civilization. That’s crazy. Luckily, not everyone does live like me. However, I am not a particularly wasteful person (I hope), so that number is still disconcerting. Since taking the quiz, I have been much more conscientious about turning off lights, unplugging appliances, etc. Seeing that number in relation to me made a huge difference. So, I would encourage you to take the My Footprint quiz, so you are also encouraged to make some changes to help our planet.

And, when you’re at it, consider taking the Slavery Footprint quiz, to see how many slaves “work for you”.

While both of these numbers are bound to be depressing, it is worth it. Being aware of these numbers will make it SO MUCH easier to make changes to help reduce both of these footprints. For real, I have been trying to be more environmentally friendly for a while, and my ecological footprint number has made me think of it so much more than I did before, leading me to do more about it.

Good luck!

One thought on “How many Earths would it take?

  1. In our view, this is an upside down look at sustainability. What we’re about to write is true of Any species: as long as the population continues to grow, unchecked, in the long run things like lifestyle, food choices and energy consumption Do Not Matter. The ecosystem will fail. This can be observed with everything from bacteria growing in Petri dishes to an overabundance of ungulates overgrazing a field or forest.
    Conversely, if humans would stop looking for some magical answer in the form of dietary change, new technology, or lifestyle change and focus on the real issue – overpopulation – and begin to resolve that, this planet could support millions of humans all living very, very well.

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