My Ecological footprint calculator
The Global Footprint Calculator provides an interactive way for you to answer questions about various aspects of your lifestyle that affect your Ecological Footprint. If you live in the United States individual-specific questions are asked about type of diet, local food, waste/recycling habits, electricity usage, type of house, personal transportation, public transportation, and airplane travel. For each topic, you have the option to give a quick, cruder, response or to use the calculator to give a more detailed evaluation. In the end, your responses to these lifestyle questions are combined with your nation’s societal burden from services such as health care or military operations. The Calculator presents the final output as the number of Earths that would be needed if everyone in the world lived like you. All 7.1 billion of us.
I have used the calculator in the past, but was interested in what had changed both in my own lifestyle and the calculator. If nothing else, I knew that the world population had increased since I last used the Calculator so any excess on my end was going to be amplified even more. So, preparing myself for a(nother) harsh reality check, I sat down to work out my Ecological Footprint.
I typically live in California during the academic year and spend the summer in Alaska. For many reasons, the differences in lifestyle go much farther than simple geography. Driven by curiosity, and the satisfaction of getting to compete with myself, I decided that I would go through the Calculator’s questions twice. First based on living in California and secondly based on living in Alaska.
A general description of life in California for me: I currently live with one other person in a condo located in a suburban area. Since this is coastal California I have yet to use heat or AC. Driving is usually limited to once or twice a week and typically occurs with at least one other person in the car. I prefer to buy local and fresh foods, and thankfully in California this is usually within my economic means. I rarely eat meat, but do eat fish and seafood from local sources. Finally, I admit to having a tremendous weak spot for dairy, especially cheese. This all got me to 3.8 Earths! This was sobering to say the least, especially when you keep in mind this specifically measures biologically productive space needed –not water, not fossil fuel supplies.
Thankfully, the Calculator does not leave you completely hanging. It provides options for reducing your footprint. It also allows you to return to questions to play around with different scenarios. Through the options the Calculator gave me, I was able to reduce my ‘score’ to 3.5 Earths. Still far from a great situation, but thinking about it as reducing the burden by 1/3 of the Earth helps keep things from feeling futile.
Table Mats background animal footprints vector illustration IMAGE 31540854 by MSD Customized Tablemats Stain Resistance Collector Kit Kitchen Table Top Desk Drink Collector
Home (MS Depot)
Large Table Mats Footprints of leaves and flowers on grass close up IMAGE 24323722 by MSD Customized Tablemats Stain Resistance Collector Kit Kitchen Table Top Desk Drink Collector
Home (MS Depot)
What is my Ecological Footprint?
How much land area does it take to support your lifestyle? Find out by taking the Ecological Footprint quiz.