Ecological Footprint, One Point Zero Living, and ‘Fair Share’
Let’s try and simplify ‘all’ this:
The Nature that provides EVERYTHING we Need to Live.
To live as a flourishing ‘full human’, each one of us needs ‘from Nature’, a bit of the Ocean, a bit of a River, a bit of a Forest, a bit of Pasture Land, a bit of Mineral Rich Earth, a bit of Home Land, etc. ie the basic components of Nature and the planet’s biosphere, to enable us to ‘keep living’.
You may not think you need some of these components, but somewhere behind everyone’s life is the use of all these basic natural resources. The more developed one’s needs are the more these basic components are hidden behind a complex interconnected network of product and service providers. All some how starting with Nature’s natural resources. Nothing is truly man made, it all ultimately comes from Nature. Because we ourselves are part of Nature. Hence: Without Nature We are Nothing!
The Global Footprint Network defines this fundamental Need from Nature of ours, in terms of an area of ‘average planet acreage’ we each require for our continued human flourishing. This ‘average planet acreage’ is called a Global Hectare (Gha). It is best envisaged by thinking about a homogenous planet.. (ie no separate oceans, continents, etc) Where each and every hectare of the earth surface was made up of the same uniform mix of sea, river, forests, pasture, etc These collective homogenous hectares represent the macro collective proportions for the whole of our non-homogenous planet surface mix of these components today. These uniform hectares are called Global Hectares. We have the Global Footprint Network to thank for this powerful and user-friendly concept.
Taking it down to the personal level:
It is important to see this as ‘virtual land’, and not confuse it with your own property land.
So just imagine you surrounded by your ‘allocated area’ of Global Hectares of the planet. Exclusively yours, with that little bit of ocean, river, plantation, forest, etc, then the atmosphere above it providing the air you breathe.
Imagine now that the number of ‘hectares’ is just enough to provide you with all the Nature support that you need for you to live your flourishing life and that you are in balance with Nature. ie What you take out and ‘excrete’, Nature processes and regenerates your hectares so you are continued to be adequately supported and in balance.
If you consume (or ‘excrete’) more you will be short of ecological capacity and need more hectares. If you enhance the natural mix of components of your hectares, by matching it more to your demand mix you will need less hectares and have extra ecological support capacity. If you find smarter ways to reduce your consumption of the resources (or your ‘excreting’) you will need less hectares, and so on…
Further, at the end of your life if you have lived within the acreage’s ecological capacity you can then hand the ‘acreage’ over to your, next generation, ‘replacement human’, to enable them to ‘use it’s maintained or improved life support capacity for their ‘next generation’ flourishing life. And so the journey of humanity’s adaption and development should continue. Each generation passing on a way of life, and condition of its hectares in a way that the next generation has the same ability to live in adaptive balance with Nature, as the previous one did. (For simplicity for now: This does not bring in the complexity of the issue of population growth)
The Global Footprint Network, has worked out two things: Firstly how many Global hectares of planet we have on the Earth today? Secondly, how many Global hectares ‘each one’, and ‘All of us” collectively needs to flourish as we live today? We Need 70% moreGlboal Hectares than We Have!
Well to put their findings in simple, small, round figure terms:
Today, if we say have a 100 Global hectares of planet earth’s human sustainability capacity, we collectively need a whopping 170 Global hectares! And 1970 was the last time we had ‘just the amount’ of Global hectares we needed to meet our Demand.
Back then the nominal 100 Global hectares we have available today was probably around 110 hectares, so we have not only massively increased our need for hectares to 170, but we have also reduced the amount available to support us from 110 to 100, through de-forestation, over fishing, urbanization, etc…
This nominal 100 Global hectares example of the capacity to support all humans is referred to as The Ecological Capacity. The 170 Global hectares we ‘take’ is The Ecological Demand for planet acreage us humans place on Nature’s biosphere. This points to the Fact that Ecological Capacity, a Critical Human Life sustaining resource is way over drawn, and as such is a scarce resource that should be rationed as is ‘normally’ done with any other ‘critical and scarce’ resource.
So: What is Fair Allocation for the Scarce Life Sustaining Resource?
So, in that simple explanation above, the ‘billion dollar’ question is: How should this scarce resource be rationed amongst All of Us? ie What is ‘Fair Allocation’? Ie:
If we only have 100 of this scarce and ‘vital for life, resource today, but we require 170, how do we divide up the 100 between all 7.6 billion of us in a ‘fair way’?
This simple of questions, is increasingly become the most important question for ‘Team Humanity’, and is needing of the most urgent answers. The answer hinges on our highest level moral and ethical beliefs.
Surely ‘Fair Allocation’ is an equal allocation for every human being? Simple? Or maybe over simplified?
Do the ‘more developed’ people, nations, and cultures get more than the less developed? Or should it be the other way around?: It’s clear from the Global Footprint Network that the more developed people / nations are the ones over demanding the most.
If we took the poorest nations and / or people in the world, we would find that they can easily live within the ‘Equal Fair Allocation’: That being where the 100 is divided equally amongst us 7.6 billion.
The problem the developed world faces, is that almost all the people of the developed world don’t know how to live within that Equal Fair allocation.
Going below the Nation level and down to the individual level, one will find that the unfairness of demand of this scarce resource is almost exactly related to wealth of individuals and how far along the pursuit of the Americanism, ‘Good Life’, continuum they are?
The average Billionaire today probably needs 20-30 times the ‘Equal Fair Allocation’, and so will obviously have a different view of what Fair Allocation should be. See Success.
Further there is the Inter-generational Fairness aspect.
Should the younger generation who didn’t cause this shortage, get more than Equal Fair share, and those that have caused it, get lesser Allocation as Fair Allocation?
Even while the question is being pondered: Surely there is no justification for those nations and individuals who are leading the humanity journey of ever increasing scarcity to continue to have way more that Equal Fair Shar? And then even be ‘daily’ demanding more allocation as the scarcity continuously increases? This is surely approaching Immoral behaviour, Greedy and Selfish behaviour. There can be no sense of a soul Belonging with Nature or The Planet? Or maybe they have disassociated themselves from Humanity, and are pursuing a survival of the fittest strategy.
In the absence of a Humanity’s answer to the simple question above, one can only look within oneself and decide what is Fair Allocation for ourselves?
Pondering this Fair Allocation problem will start a personal journey that can be quite profound if one is courageous enough to allow the natural exploring to unfold. I’d encourage you to step up to its Challenge, as the potential reward is a profound deeper belonging in This World.
In June 2016, I set out to try and live for at least 12 months restricting my footprint to the Equal Fair Allocation’ amount. At the same time trying to live as normal a life (for me!) as I could.
For the average person in the most developed western world countries, this means a 60-80% reduction in their current Global Hectares needed! It doesn’t take too much imagination to realise that heading off on an 18 month adventure to explore what living to that limit for a full year and more requires is One Serious Challenge, for those caught in the Americanism, Good Life!