Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 8-15-07

It’s time to drill deeper into my two-week-old “Learning to Tiptoe” column in which I concluded that, on average, you and I need to decrease our carbon diet by about 10% per year for ten years.  Whether or not you embrace this particular ‘10% per year for ten years‘ diet plan, it’s important to know where you’re starting from.  Without knowing your current ecological footprint, how will you know when you’ve gotten where you want to go?

Allow me to show you how to do this, using the First Hammer – me – as your guinea pig.

I went to and completed the Global Footprint Network’s quick and painless Ecological Footprint Quiz.  It’s one of many online footprint calculators and the process took less than 5 minutes. And, although it’s clearly not an exact science, the quiz defines the size of my footprint based upon my food habits, how I travel, and the resources and energy I use.

Sure, I could spill the beans here by describing the specifics of my own lifestyle, but I’m only willing to take off my shoes and show you the size of my sole; I’m not willing to strip naked and lay myself out before you in raw totality.

Just my shoes.

Here is the result: it takes 9 acres of biologically productive land to support my lifestyle.  Call me a size 9 which is, coincidentally, my actual shoe size!  Compared to the average footprint in theUnited Statesof 24 acres, I feel pretty darn good: I require about 38% of the national, per-capita average.  (By the way, my 9 acres are eaten up as follows: food 2.7 acres; mobility .2 acres; shelter 3.2 acres; goods and services 2.5 acres.)

Here’s the rub:  worldwide, there are only 4.5 biologically productive acres available per person, so that if everyone on the planet lived like me we would need 2 earths to remain sustainable! So, in order for me to use only what land is available — to be sustainable — I need to reduce my ecological footprint by 50%! I need a shoe size of 4.5, not 9!

What does this say about our nation, in which, on average, we use 24 acres of biologically productive land when there are only 4.5 acres available?  If everyone on earth lived like bloated Americans, we’d need 5-1/3 earths! So, in order for us to use only what land is available — to be sustainable — our citizens, on average, needs to reduce their ecological footprint by 80%!

Cheery, huh?  Especially when our mainstream economy wants the average global human to aggressively increase their consumption; to be like Americans!

Since I’m on a roll, I’ll add just one more terribly depressing piece of data.   The above math is based upon current population levels.  If, however, the planet’s current population grows at the same rate as we did in 2001, today’s 6.7 billion people will reach 22.2 billion by 2100!  Then, instead of 4.5 available acres per person there will only be 1.35!

Need anything more from me to empower your dieting in order to erase part of your own footprint?

Start with the end in mind. Take the quiz and embrace the math.

I remember a song we used to sing on the camp bus when I was a young child and it goes like this……… “we’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here, we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.”

Yes, it’s a broken record.  Here sucks.

We can’t grow on like this.


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