This world has such a yearning for more ‘stuff’ that the population is actually using more of the worlds resources than it has, and guess who is to blame the most? America, of course. The USA manages to consume such a disproportional amount that they make 5% of the worlds population but use 20% of the energy. In addition, they eat 15% of the worlds meat but produce a incredible 40% of the worlds waste. This means that if all 7 billion of us lived like a Yankee then we would need 4.1 Earth’s to support our needs. This can be compared to Bangladesh where, theoretically, 7 billion Bangladeshi people could live off Asia and part of Africa – well under half the worlds land. The UK has an ecological footprint of approximately 4.8 which is unsustainable but relatively good compared to the worst country where Qatar has a footprint of over 11.
I believe that I contribute a relatively minimal amount to this quite serious problem as I do my best to be as sustainable as possible. I am someone that habitually recycles everything that’s recyclable and feel guilty when I do not. Always turning appliances off when not needed is important to me and I cycle where ever I can rather than taking the bus or driving. I believe, because of this, I have a potentially lower carbon footprint than the average student. When taking the carbon footprint calculator at http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/ I learnt that it would take 2.32 earth’s to sustain the population if everyone lived the way I do. And this is potentially below average so I can say with confidence that all 7.2 billion of us need to work together to save our planet, particularly the western world. If we do not work together then the implications of increased carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere are horrendous. Such effects include global warming leading to climate change and extreme weather, sea level rise and harmful impact on agriculture. These in themselves should be a motivation for people to live sustainable with a minimal impact on the environment.
Of course, it is virtually impossible to live in today’s society without contributing in some way even if only a minute amount. Everyone has a home that has heating and electricity and everyone buys products that in some way have had a negative effect on the environment. In any case, we can all do our own bit by turning off lights and appliances when not needed, cycling or using public transport when possible, eating local food and installing loft insulation and double glazing windows.