Sustainability: it’s perhaps the most over-used, yet under-analyzed, word in the modern environmental movement. One way to think of it is like those from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) who point out that currently we are out of synch with the idea, in that we are “increasingly living beyond our means – we currently consume 30% more natural resources than the Earth’s ecosystems can replenish”.
They Global Footprint Network has coined the term Ecological footprint to describe just how much land and water is needed to produce the resources we consume, and to absorb the wastes we produce.
Our global ecological footprint has grown by 150% in the past half century and if we continue as we’ve been living, the WWF predicts that by 2050 we’ll need a second planet to support our demands for energy, water, food and shelter- and to absorb our wastes.
That is all of humanity, but if you look at just Europe and the U.S., it gets worse. As the One Planet Living organization broadcasts on their website: “If everyone in the world lived like an average North American we would need 5 planets to live on“.
This is not the fault of just heavy polluters, but of the lifestyle to which most of us are accustomed, even supposed “greens”. Tyson Dirksen has been involved in green building for the past decade, but he acknowledges that his personal lifestyle is far from sustainable. With an Australian wife who likes to visit family, he knows he flies too much (If you’re not familiar with the carbon footprint of flying, consider that some estimates put one roundtrip flight from London to Perth, Australia as equal to the carbon footprint- for the year- of the average Brit).
In this video, Tyson talks about his portion of the global footprint, giving up eating meat to offset his flying and the lessons he’s learned from green building.