Friday, April 22, 2005

Wanted: a few good planets 

Today is the 35th anniversary of Earth Day. As part of your observance of this day, please consider taking the Ecological Footprint Quiz from the folks at the Earth Day Network and Redefining Progress. The quiz is intended to give you an idea about your impact on the earth's resources, by "estimat[ing] how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard."

Your results may disturb you; mine certainly did. According to the quiz, my ecological footprint is 21 global acres. "In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 24 global acres per person. Worldwide, there exist 4.5 biologically productive acres per person. If everyone lived like you, we would need 4.7 planets." The results are broken down into four categories: food, mobility, shelter, and goods/services. Because only Paul and I live in our freestanding, single-family house (with running water and electricity), shelter is the area in which we rack up the acres.

There's more detailed information about the quiz here, here, and here. If you want really detailed information about your own household's consumption, you can download a spreadsheet to help you figure it out.

How many planets would we need if everyone lived like you?