Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 8-1-07; Published again in our 2012 spring edition of  our “On the Level” e-newsletter.

Reducing one’s ecological footprint involves walking lighter and lighter upon the earth…..  continuous improvement in the reduction of one’s material and energy needs.  Perhaps a better phrase might be continuous reduction.

What’s your next step in this direction? How will you achieve the reductions in impact that the scientific and environmental community are pleading with us to achieve?

Imagine your own daily allowance of carbon use.  It’s not unlike your daily caloric budget: surpassing today’s approximate 2,000 calorie intake will overload your body’s well being. It’s your choice.

Our atmosphere, too, is finite and can absorb only so much abuse, or loading. We know there’s a carbon threshold for humanity beyond which our activities threaten the stability of global climate.

So what’s your own personal carbon allowance?

Since we’re all created equal, fairness proclaims that you only get to release your individual piece of the pie. Since world population presently stands at around 6.6 billion humans, your personal carbon budget is roughly one 6.6 billionth of this total threshold loading.  Not a big piece of pie.  (Must use a tweezer, not a fork.)

Just how much do we need to reduce our own piece of this carbon pie? And how soon do we need to tiptoe this lightly?

Pick a study, any study.  They are countless. And if you imagine the needle of a compass driven by these numerous studies, north looks like this:

  1. We have around 10 years to reach a safe carbon threshold to avoid potentially irreversible damage to the atmosphere.
  2. Embracing the bloated carbon lifestyles we have in the U.S.relative to others on the globe, our carbon footprints need to fall around 90% in order to reach all-created-equal status.

Whoa!  A 90% reduction in ten years!  You and I. Roughly speaking this is a 10% reduction per year in our carbon footprint.

Let’s return to the question at hand………… What’s your next step in this direction? How will you achieve the reductions in impact that the scientific and environmental community are pleading with us to achieve?

Need a hand?  There are many next steps. A great starting point is David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge, which 352,621 people have already embraced (go to http://www.davidsuzuki.org/NatureChallenge ).

My point is not to hand feed you a next step but, instead, to challenge you with the need to have a next step close at hand. And a next one.  And a next one.  Continuous reduction.  A diet plan.

I sound like a dietician when I suggest that, like a successful weight reduction plan, it’s all about lifestyle change, one that can be continued into the indefinite future.

Indefinite future?  Sounds like a potent definition for sustainability………. plan for the continuous reduction in our carbon emissions in order to achieve a sustainable future for our gene pool.

There’s the rub: there’s no lifeguard protecting our gene pool!

Be a lifeguard and work towards erasing more and more of your own footprint.  Know that lifeguards don’t wear shoes or the like when they’re out there protecting life on the beach — they work in bare feet.

Follow their lead. Protect life. Learn to tiptoe.

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