Date: 14 April 08
C2: [Rookies Only] Go to http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp and calculate your personal ecological footprint. After taking the footprint quiz, click and read the FAQ link: http://www.rprogress.org/ecological_footprint/footprint_FAQs.htm. From there, use the Ecological Footprint drop-down menu to go to http://www.rprogress.org/ecological_footprint/reducing_your_footprint.htm and explore ways that you could diminish your footprint. Discuss what you found, and how your footprint could be improved.
At the Earthday Network website I took the Ecological Footprint Quiz with the following result:
The Ecological Footprint measures the amount of natural resources an individual, a community, or a country consumes in a given year.
Finally I went to the link that shows how to reduce your footprint where I initially concluded that, barring a major lifestyle change, I would be unable to have much impact at all. Here are some of the suggestions (in bold) the site made, followed by the reasons I’m unable to comply at this time. I realize these will sound like excuses, but at this point in my life I’m perhaps the individual worst suited for this sort of intervention:
I live in Dallas/Fort Worth--perhaps the most energy conscious metropolitan area in America behind Houston. And with the death of Enron (a well-deserved death), Houston might not even be number one anymore. And by energy conscious of course I don’t mean conservation conscious, I mean ‘how can we rip more resources out the earth in order to sell them and make yet more obscene profits’ conscious.
I suspect that if all my friends and neighbors and co-workers were polled, that Hillary Clinton would come in a distant second to Al Gore on their hit list of people they’d most like to hit. There is not one person I know who can say the phrase ‘global warming’ without a sneer or a sarcastic comment or perhaps cursing Gore for bringing it up.
Nearly all of my friends are online and in this respect I have the most chance of setting an example or enlisting support in reducing my energy footprint. And at least my online friends, unlike my local friends and neighbors and co-workers, are intelligent enough to know that Al Gore never claimed to invent the Internet.
My co-workers are my closest local friends and my company (which sells computer services for other companies) does most of its business with the energy industry: Louisianna Power & Light, Global Santa-Fe, Halliburton, and Schlumberger. My current livelihood seems irretrievably entangled with the companies which have the most at stake if energy use is cut back. Perhaps understandably, given that scenario, even those that might think as I do keep their opinions to themselves at work and give their best effort to help some of the worst polluters and energy wasters not only continue to do business, but to prosper.
Involve community leaders
I have absolutely no influence over community leaders. However, I was invited last year to run for State Representative by the Libertarian Party, so perhaps something could happen in this direction (if pigs flew), but see below first:
Register to vote and vote for candidates
* Renewable energy policies
* Highly fuel-efficient modes of transportation
* Protecting existing ecologically productive lands
* Restoring degraded natural areas
* Promoting organic and local food sources
* Setting standards for recycled product procurement policies and fair trade
Voting for energy-friendly candidates would seem to be something that I could do to help out. Unfortunately, although I vote Libertarian most of the time just because I refuse to support the extant corrupt two-party system, the Libertarians have some rough spots, among them their desire and dedication to protecting rapacious corporations from any sort of oversight or governmental control. While I am dead certain that they would fully support any companies efforts towards developing ‘highly fuel-efficient modes of transportation’, especially as long as they made profits and avoided taxes by doing so, they would also be dead against nearly every other item on this list as government interference.
The party I actually need is a combination of the Green Party represented by Ralph Nader and his distrust of large corporations coupled with the Libertarian ideal of freedom and less interference in individuals lives.
Also, I could just reduce my individual energy use and waste. I have to have a car--there is no public transport and my working hours are not such I could use it if it were available. I do drive a small, fuel-efficient car and if they became less expensive I would buy a hybrid, and electric or perhaps even another motorcycle. Unfortunately, it seems nearly every other person in the state of Texas drives the largest vehicle they can afford, and very, very few of them actually need a truck for anything at all other than peer status.
I live in a tiny apartment, use very little water and generate very little waste. I can do nothing about eating fast and packaged food since I cannot cook. I could learn to cook but then I would sacrifice whatever gains I made by having to drive to the store much more often for ingredients or drive much further to a farmers market.
What I can and will do is reduce my electricity use. I leave too many items plugged in all the time and I have far too many gadgets of limited usefulness. I will buy yet another gadget--a ‘kill-o-watt’ meter that measures the usage of every electric appliance--and start with the worst offenders.
In conclusion, the ‘Reducing Your Footprint’ site linked to a site called: ‘Turn the Tide: 10 Actions for the Planet’. I found this site much more useful and optimistic than the original ‘footprint’ site. Let’s peruse their list and see if I can perhaps be a little more helpful than my pessimistic report so far. And it looks like I can! My notes are below the numbered and bolded items:
1. Walk, Bike, Carpool... (Drive Less)
None of these are available to me given my current location and job situation.
2. Eat Less Feedlot Beef
I eat very little beef already and could live without it entirely very easily.
3. Eat Eco-friendly Seafood
I try to do this already. I love any sort of seafood.
4. Free Yourself From Junk Mail
I understand there are now several lists so you can opt-out. I get tons of junk mail and don’t want any of it. I will investigate.
5. Install Compact Fluorescents
All my lights except one or two small ones have been fluorescent for a long time.
6. Stop Freezing in the Summer
I already adjust my thermostat to the low-to-mid 80’s in the summer.
7. Stop Sweating in the Winter
I am diabetic, but I still try to keep my thermostat around 70 in the winter.
8. Eliminate Lawn Pesticides
I don’t have a lawn.
9. Reduce Home Water Usage
I already use very, very little.
10. Inspire Your Friends
I will do my best to inspire my internet friends. My local ones are much more challenging!