Monday, October 15, 2007

everything is connected

the basic tenet of environmentalism and ecology is "everything is connected." in this spirit, I offer a link that really drives this point home.

take the ecological footprint quiz. the quiz is adjusted to where one lives and asks a series of questions about your lifestyle. your answer to these questions calculate how big your ecological footprint is and compares that to the average footprint of others who live in your country.

for the united states the average ecological footprint is "24 acres per person" however, worldwide there exists only 4.5 biologically productive acres for each person. people in the u.s. are gobbling up much more than their share. although I still have lots of room for improvement, I'm very pleased to discover that my footprint is significantly smaller than the u.s. average.

ever wonder about the quality of air, water and land in your community? if you live in the u.s. you can click here and see how your community stacks up.

pictures: top - geese tracks, ohio 2007; bottom - air emissions from steel mill in cleveland.


Unknown said...

Hmm, and I thought I was really doing my bit and the quiz says I'm not... I suspect, however, that this has much to do with the basic infrastructure of South Africa which makes relative measurement almost immeasurable. Happily, my footprint is considerably less than the average American's! ;-)

Reya Mellicker said...

I have such a quarrel with that quiz. I've taken it before (took it again just to see if the results were the same).

The questions don't address my lifestyle adequately. For instance, I don't own a car, but use a car sharing service once a week to buy groceries, etc. So I drive about 2 miles a week, alone in my shared car - otherwise I'm rarely even in a car except a taxi here and there. Mostly I walk and use the subway. But on the quiz the only choice for how many kilometers I drive is either zero, or 10-50. I never drive 10, but I dont' drive zero either.

Also just because no one else is in the car doesn't mean I'm being wasteful. Too many assumptions by the people who created the quiz.

My footprint is large because I live in a culture in which there is no other choice, but I live simply, I don't buy a lot of stuff, I don't own a lot of stuff.

Anyway, why am I whining to you? I'll stop now!

Thanks for the essay.

Ms. Mamma said...

Wow! That is unbelievable. The county I live in was among the top 10% dirtiest in the nation for air releases in 2002. Yuck. Thanks for the link.

Unknown said...

I thought I was doing well too, but then reya pointed out some flaws with the quiz. I'm still below average, but way too high for this quiz. Boo. guess I still have to make changes.

lettuce said...

these links are so depressing.

But important, i know that....

I think more people are becoming aware and trying to be a bit more responsible in the UK. sometimes I think there might be hope for us all

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I agree with everyone's grips about the footstep quiz and have had the same 'issues' with it since I first took it a few years ago, but I put the link up anyway because I still think it has value. for one thing the concept is important. and those of us who really do try to live more simply can see the flaws it the quiz's basic design.

in all categories of the quiz, the questions aren't sensitive enough - perfect example is reya's issue with the car issue. I too don't have a car, but a couple times a month I will borrow my daughter's to run errands. zap I expect my footstep increases! in the food dept. if you are an omnivore, the quiz it isn't sensitive to those who eat free range eggs and meat or organic dairy products. etc. etc.

changing cultural hegemony is difficult but vital. I'm thinking specifically of consumer culture & rampant materialism, for everything is connected.

as lettuce observes I too believe more people are aware and trying to be responsible and there is hope. but we have a loooong way to go!

perhaps one day some geek will design a better quiz - I do expect one may already be out there, but it probably takes hours to complete! time we need to devote to walking or riding our bikes to work or volunteering to make the world a better place. ;)

p.s. speaking of time, I was a bit pressured this morning before heading off to work. so I had tp quickly came up with something for the mouse action day blog. ah, my intentions to devote time to it this weekend unfortunately went the way of many good intentions!

oh mm - sorry to hear the air in your 'neck of the woods' is dirty. cleveland is very bad. actually one idea I had was to talk about the health effects on children and other vulnerable groups of air pollution and how often the poor in our countries are most likely the victims of pollution and environmental degradation.

one of the local steel mills here continues to poison an entire community which is downwind to it's toxic cloud. the neighborhoods adversely affected are poor communities where many people have little opportunity or resources to leave and/or even organize to fight the giant steel co or 'business community.' but there is resistance and organization that is trying and hopefully not too many people will have to get sick or die before significant progress is made.

oh my, it seems like I just added an addendum 'post' for blog action day!

peace on!
green on!