What is Sustainability?
The ability for a species to survive in perpetuity without depleting the resources nor damaging the environment in which it inhabits.
I = P X A
Impact = Population x Affluence
Humanity’s impact (I) on the planet is equal to the number of People (P) multiplied by their Affluence (A). One’s affluence or wealth determines their level of economic activity.
So how do we know if our global economic activity is sustainable or unsustainable?
There are a number of organizations that measure our demand on nature.
One widely used by scientists, governments and organizations to measure our impact is the Global Footprint Network. According to their data 7.7 Billion people are consuming far more resources than the earth can naturally renew and emitting far more wastes than it can absorb. We need the equivalent of over an 1.7 Earths at our current level of economic activity to be sustainable.
Global Affluence (A) or economic activity must largely be reduced by half if 7.7 billion people are to live sustainably and allow for the abundance and diversity of life to flourish.
So based on 7.7 billion people what do I need to do to live sustainably?
Land: The average global citizen uses the equivalent of what 7 acres of land (Americans 20 acres) can provide us for all of our needs. Each of us must reduce our consumption of goods and services where we use a maximum of 3 ½ acres.
Emissions: The average global citizen emits 5 tons of CO2 a year (Americans 18-20 tons) from our lifestyle choices. We need to reduce our consumption of goods and services to where we emit 2.5 tons of CO2 a year.
Income or GDP: The average global citizen consumes goods and services of $11,000 a year (Americans $60,000) . We need to reduce our consumption to $5500 to live sustainably.
What does this sustainable lifestyle look like?
No Central Heat, Air or Hot Water
Minimal Electricity - for a handful of small appliances
No Clothes Washer or Dryer
No Air Travel
3 Sets of Clothes
Local Plant-based Diet.
Are you willing to live sustainably?
Currently 4 billion people live at or below this lifestyle, and they are fighting everyday to improve their lives as measured by consumption of more goods and services. The 3.5 billion living above this lifestyle have little interest in reducing their consumption habits to the degree necessary to live sustainably.
Which do you think is easier, more practical, feasible and effective? Getting the world’s citizens to drastically reduce their future consumption OR reduce the number of future consumers?
There have been many successful initiatives by countries and their leadership in promoting sustainability through small families, all in the context of human rights, all voluntarily. Come join the dialogue with us to help elevate the conversation out of the shadows and into the limelight toward a safe, just, prosperous and sustainable future for us and all earth’s creatures.