I don’t intend to pick on Westmount since every community on the island probably has a similarly large ecological footprint.
Westmount's Ecological footprint is the red, outer-most border
Nevertheless, it is just amazing when you look at the map above. The BLUE border is the physical size of Westmount. The RED border is the ecological footprint, or the size of the Earth’s resources it devours. The GREEN border represents the “ideal ecological footprint” according to some academic (see the full research here).
What’s the #1 source of this enormous ecological footprint? WASTE with 59% of the entire footprint! Waste has to be carried far away by gas powered vehicles and then stored in a place that takes space away from farms, towns and other productive spaces.
So, the #1 way to reduce your ecological footprint is to Compost! Yea, compost! It’s easy, it’s fun and you get empowered in the face of this ecological train-wreck called “modern, western life.”
• Friday, February 05th, 2010
This “plan”, whose goal is to have 9 billion people “living well, within the resource limitations of the planet”, was created by corporations in an effort to preserve their usefulness in the face of Peak Everything. While there are some good ideas here to be pursued, such as reducing our carbon footprint and doubling agricultural production, there is no mention of any practical ways to achieve these goals.
For example, in their executive summary they claim that the assets to achieve their ambitious goals already exist: “The participating companies strongly believe that the world already has the knowledge, science, technologies, skills and financial resources needed to achieve Vision 2050…”
Well, that’s great, but they didn’t mention how to provide the basics of life needed to sustain 9 billion people: energy, topsoil and water. Where will they come from? Another planet? The report basically says very little. How is that so much energy gets put into writing something so large that is so useless?
Source: Smart Planet
There’s a new prescription for global sustainability being put forth by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Vision 2050 report is described as nothing less than the pathway to a world that supports 9 billion people “living well, within the resource limitations of the planet” by that time frame.
The analysis represents the viewpoints of about 29 global businesses (from 14 different industries) who are advocating that the corporate world take a leading role in setting strategy and policy that will lead their respective customers, partners, employees and communities down the right path. In a press release announcing the publication Syngenta CEO Michael Mack (who was involved with the project) describes humanity’s relationship with the planet in the past and present as an “exploitative relationship.” We need to transform it into a “symbiotic one,” he says.
Among the issues businesses need to address are how carbon footprint, ecosystem services and water usage considerations should be mapped into marketplace and pricing structures. Agriculture will come in for major investments: The report calls for a doubling of output over the 40 years between now and the report’s end game. Two other goals are the halving of carbon emissions worldwide, based on 2005 levels and “universal access low-carbon mobility.”
• Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
A new book by Tim Jackson “Prosperity Without Growth” focuses upon our new reality: economics needs to shift its focus from growth and towards new definitions of prosperity.
Gross National Product (GDP) is one of the statistics economists have used for 50+ years to define economic growth and prosperity. However, there are alternatives to a definition of prosperity based upon growth. The tiny country of Bhutan, for example, measures economic progress by Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) and ignores traditional GDP.
Source: The Guardian
“Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must.” And that is the core mission of this perfectly timed book. Had he published it before the financial crisis, he would probably have been dismissed as another green idealist, at best. But in the wake of the crisis, more people are questioning the primacy of growth at all costs. President Sarkozy, the Nobel-prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz and elements of the Financial Times’s commentariat are among those now arguing that prosperity is possible without GNP growth, and indeed that prosperity will soon become impossible because of GNP growth. A new movement seems to be emerging, and this superbly written book should be the first stop for anyone wanting a manifesto.
Jackson, who is economics commissioner on the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission, skilfully makes the relevant economic arguments understandable to the lay reader. He is not slow to simplify where that is warranted: “The idea of a non-growing economy may be an anathema to an economist. But the idea of a continually growing economy is an anathema to an ecologist.”
This is the core of the debate. Endless growth is a ridiculous notion to the typical ecologist because we live on a planet with finite resources, the mining and use of some of which is undermining our planet’s life-support systems. But the typical economist believes we can “decouple” GNP growth from resource use through the increased efficiency that tends to be intrinsic to capitalism: that we can grow our economies and reverse environmental degradation too. Tesco, as it were, can keep building more stores for ever, provided they are increasingly resource-efficient.
Jackson argues compellingly that such “decoupling” is a myth. A key area of argument, as with so much else in the current world, involves climate change. If we keep growing GNP, Jackson explains, then we fail to cut greenhouse gases deeply. This means we stoke destruction of prosperity beyond the short-term horizons – “next quarter’s growth figures” and all the rest – on which we routinely put such emphasis today.
• Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
An excellent view of the challenges we face from a man who has been a comic and inspirational force. For those who choose not to read the full article, here is a summary of trends he sees:
- Hope will fuel a mini “euphoria” for the first few months of the Obama Presidency, then reality will set in. He expects the Dow Industrial Stock Average to end up at 4000 sometime in 2009.
- Thousands of companies will fail and millions of jobs will be lost. Downsizing will occur at all levels of society: government, business and family.
- A new “servant class” will be created as domestic workers will start moving in with their employers.
- A massive return to home gardening: “Gardening is the new Golf”
- Oil and gas prices will rise and there may be spot shortages
- The U.S. dollar will be 40% of it’s current value by the end of 2009
- An end of robust globalism – the world is round after all, Tom Friedman.
Via: Clusterfuck Nation
There are two realities “out there” now competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen. The dominant one (let’s call it the Status Quo) is that our problems of finance and economy will self-correct and allow the project of a “consumer” economy to resume in “growth” mode. This view includes the idea that technology will rescue us from our fossil fuel predicament — through “innovation,” through the discovery of new techno rescue remedy fuels, and via “drill, baby, drill” policy. This view assumes an orderly transition through the current “rough patch” into a vibrant re-energized era of “green” Happy Motoring and resumed Blue Light Special shopping.
The minority reality (let’s call it The Long Emergency) says that it is necessary to make radically new arrangements for daily life and rather soon. It says that a campaign to sustain the unsustainable will amount to a tragic squandering of our dwindling resources. It says that the “consumer” era of economics is over, that suburbia will lose its value, that the automobile will be a diminishing presence in daily life, that the major systems we’ve come to rely on will founder, and that the transition between where we are now and where we are going is apt to be tumultuous.
My own view is obviously the one called The Long Emergency.
Since the change it proposes is so severe, it naturally generates exactly the kind of cognitive dissonance that paradoxically reinforces the Status Quo view, especially the deep wishes associated with saving all the familiar, comfortable trappings of life as we have known it. The dialectic between the two realities can’t be sorted out between the stupid and the bright, or even the altruistic and the selfish. The various tech industries are full of MIT-certified, high-achiever Status Quo techno-triumphalists who are convinced that electric cars or diesel-flavored algae excreta will save suburbia, the three thousand mile Caesar salad, and the theme park vacation. The environmental movement, especially at the elite levels found in places like Aspen, is full of Harvard graduates who believe that all the drive-in espresso stations in America can be run on a combination of solar and wind power. I quarrel with these people incessantly. It seems especially tragic to me that some of the brightest people I meet are bent on mounting the tragic campaign to sustain the unsustainable in one way or another. But I have long maintained that life is essentially tragic in the sense that history won’t care if we succeed or fail at carrying on the project of civilization.
• Thursday, October 30th, 2008
From Culture Change:
With the IEA’s [International Energy Agency] World Energy Outlook’s assessment of depletion (including other factors such as sabotage) at 9.1% of the “natural rate,” and given the economic downturn’s momentum, we are looking into the gaping maw of collapse. This is the end of the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution. Why am I choosing to sound so dramatic, and not call today’s “recession” a retreat from growth that we can recover from? The reason is we will be going all the way down in the trough after our rise to the top of consumption. It is the Category 5 storm we have unleashed. Now lash yourself to the mast or be swept overboard by the monster wave.
As Culture Change readers learned, agriculture is not sustainable for large populations. [Peter Salonius, author and soil scientist] And what gave us the industrial revolution? Answer: the easy coal and gushing, cheap petroleum.
• Sunday, October 19th, 2008
When the human population was counted in millions and resources were
sparse, people could simply move to pastures new. But with 9 billion
people expected around 2050, moving on is not an option. As
politicians reconstruct the global economy, they should take heed. If
we are to leave any kind of planet to our children we need an economic
system that lets us live within our means.
Via New Scientist