Embracing a more natural and sustainable life one step at a time
Our planet’s “hidden” value, its resources
Our planet’s “hidden” value, its resources
Stop for a second and look around you, everything you see, from the monitor or device you are reading this article on, to the house you live in, all is there thanks to resources and raw material extracted and processed somewhere to create these products. Same goes for the food we eat, the cloth we wear, the energy we use. Even our existence in this planet is attached to resources, without clean water we couldn’t survive more than a week.
I think most of the time we tend to ignore that fact, we take precious resources for granted and we don’t give them the value they really have. We also consume way too much stuff, some because we really need them for a particular purpose, others we think they will make us happier or maybe they were on sale and we couldn’t resist the temptation. The bottom line is that beyond the monetary component, these are all resources taken from the planet.
Today’s post is not about tips and alternatives to explore, it is just some information and reflection about this topic which I consider it is key to understand if you want to start living a more sustainable life.
If you think about the life thousands of years ago, humans used to live in a planet very different to what it is today, resources were abundant and our demand was low. We didn’t have cars, mega-metropolis, big industries or petroleum based products, we lived a way simpler life.
However, with all the progress, technological and medical advances our population has exploded. Look at this statics from the video below:
“It took 200.000 years for our population to reach 1 billion and only 200 to reach 2 billion”
So if this trend continues by 2100 we might reach 11 billion people in a planet that is already struggling with climate change, habitat lost for many species, resources scarcity in many countries, ocean pollution and many more.
Human or Ecological Footprint
In simple terms this is a measure of the demand human activities put on earth’s resources. Every year we demand more and more from nature giving no time for re-generation and as you can guess that’s a big problem, because resources are limited.
This is formally calculated by Global Footprint Network tracking bio-capacity (nature supply) vs demand over 6 categories such as cropland, grazing land, fishing grounds, built-up land, forest area and carbon demand on land.
If we look at their Ecological Wealth of Nations Map we can see there are already countries like USA, Spain, Italy, Mexico, South Africa which footprint is greater than its bio-capacity. And I personally don’t think the situation is going to get any better if governments, businesses and us keep living the same way we have been living especially during the past century.
This short video, which is the trailer from a program that NatGeo aired in 2008 called precisely “Human Footprint”, summarises the point quite well (sorry the quality of the video is not the best)
The fact is just for us to be alive, we need to consume resources, there is no way around that; however our modern lifestyles, economies and personal choices have made this burden quite heavy for the planet.
If you haven’t watched “The Story of Stuff” I highly recommend this video. I know parts of the video might sound a bit biased for many, but the general message she is trying to convey is so important. I think it is great video to understand the issues behind our modern production of material goods and how the way we have learnt to consume them is linked to all that. If you don’t have the time to watch it now, please add it to your “watch later” list or put a reminder, it is worth it.
“We have to stop thinking that unlimited economic growth on a planet of finite natural resources is a sustainable model” – Dr Jane Goodall
What’s Your Footprint
If you want to have a rough estimation of your ecological footprint, Global Footprint Network has created a calculator based on the same criteria described above. Just answer some questions the best you can (some are a bit tricky to estimate) and it will tell you:
How many earths we would need if everyone lived like you.
Your personal Earth Overshoot Day (date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year)
Details of your results and solutions you could explore.
This post is not suppose to be a dark and gloomy one, my goal today is to simply raise awareness about the facts that we consume resources every single day, material goods can’t be created out of nothing and our demand on having always more comes at a price. Earth resources can’t be taken from granted.
I hope you have found some useful insights from the information above to consider in your every day life or maybe some motivation to start or continue your green journey. Personally even when I don’t have kids, one of the aspects that has motivated the most in this personal journey is precisely thinking about future generations. Those kids that are being born right now and deserve a healthy planet to live in.
We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children – Native American Proverb
So tell me in a comment below: Had you seen resources from this perspective? Which bit of this information did you find most helpful?
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I am Diana. I write about my journey trying to live a greener lifestyle and how we collectively can make a difference revisiting our beliefs and daily habits, learning more about the environment and being an active participant.