Thursday, September 6, 2007

683 Ecological Footprint Analysis

Message no. 683[Branch from no. 670] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Saturday, March 24, 2007 5:22pm Subject: Ecological Footprint Analysis

Hi Michelle! That was a very creative and enterprising use of myspace to share your ideas. I appreciate your use of a quote from the book and a quote from the website, making it consistent with the relational summary format. If I have any criticisms they would be two: first, your presentation as it stands made me want to see more. That is a good thing. So... give us more! The second goes along with the first, but goes deeper, (and applies to all of your eutopias class!): given that your golf course exists and that Tahiti exists, and that the solar house you showed us exists (all beautiful things) how do you propose we acheive this eutopia? One could argue that if we just all had enough money we could literally go out and buy the kind of relaxing beautiful environment you have shown, but then we run into a certain problem: is it not because of the purchasing decisions and lifestyle decisions of the rich (who own the spotless beaches in Tahiti) that so much of the rest of the world is so degraded and polluted,and the majority are so poor? What about the argument that for everybody on earth to live the way you have suggested, we would need at least 10 planet earth's? Something to think about, huh?

Now that we are in the swing of the presentations, and we are getting an idea of what we are each capable of imagining, lets ratchet this up a notch! Here's what I would like you to incorporate in your presentation, Michelle, (and all of you in your presentations, class), and I will be satisfied: THE CONCEPT OF THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT.

The ecological footprint concept says that we can measure how much each of us consumes of the world`s resources as we try to make our environmental affordances satisfy our desires. To see if the eutopias we dream of are really feasible on a planetary scale (as opposed to merely possible for the very very few of us who get rich enough to build our fantasyland -- almot always at the expense of others, since we live in the same little fishbowl of a planet!) we then multiply our "footprint" by the number of people on earth and see if we can get away with it.

I think you will find the results stunning.

Here are some websites for you guys to get familiar with the concept and do the calculations:

(Go through this first one, select your country and fill out all the info and report to us the footprint. Then select Fiji or Tahiti and refill the questions and see the difference!)

(This website will give you an overview of the concept)

(This site, from Redefining Progress, goes much much deeper into the concept of "sustainable development" and helps you to figure out how to avoid "ecological overshoot".

What you guys will see is that it may be a long road between dreaming up a eutopia and actually making one work. Your task now is to try as hard as you can to justify how you are going to achieve your eutopia without continuing to destroy the environment of other's proposed eutopias.

It is time to start getting a little competitive in a constructive way ... start questioning each others eutopias and critiquing them. For example, to have a nice golf course, have you any idea how much water it takes? How much fertilizer and poisonous pesticide? How much fossil fuel to cut the grass? Is it sustainable, or will it lead to more ecological overshoot?

When growing your vegetable garden, where will the fertilizer come from? Will you compost your waste? How will you keep your beach clean? Will you use a composting toilet instead of a cesspool and leach field? Will you eliminate the use of plastics? If not, what will you do with your plastic waste?

These technical issues turn out to be the greatest stumbling blocks (besides political ones) in achieving our eutopias. Lets start adressing them!

Good start Michelle -- thanks for opening up this next phase in our deepening understanding, and for so creatively using myspace. Hopefully the world community will start commenting on your eutopia and add to the discussion!

T, now writing from Munich, Germany, after just arriving from Israel.

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