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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Diversity Within Earthchurch

I'm only talking about diversity of ecological footprints. Let's call them EF's for short. A person's EF is the total of all of his impacts on the biosphere. For example, when you sit in your warm home in the winter, there is some fuel being burned to generate the heat. The burning of the fuel puts some contaminants into the air. And so on. Our EF is a composite of many things. Automobile and aircraft use are important components, but so are many things that we don't even see, such as the diesel powered ships that transport the goods from China. When you buy a nice shirt that was made in China or Indonesia, some pollution was enabled, since a diesel ship and then a truck was used to bring it to you. Of course there was energy used to manufacture the shirt, and the cloth from which it was made. Laundry, especially the drying, also uses a lot of energy.

Within our Earthchurch group we have a wide diversity of ecological footprints. In my opinion we need to welcome them all. We have two people who have a very low EF. They have a lifestyle based on walking and bicycling, and a minimum of purchasing new things. Jay wrote about that when we were discussing saving money and helping the planet. At the other end we have some members who have a high EF lifestyle, living in large homes, putting lots of miles on large vehicles, taking a couple of plane trips each year, and buying lots of stuff. The rest of us are spread across the EF spectrum. My own EF is in the middle, perhaps a little less than the north American average. That's mostly because I'm retired and don't drive to work every day. I own a small car, but I also walk and bicycle quite a bit. I don't buy a lot of stuff. I haven't flown since April of 2001, but that's because it's become such a hassle. I hate waiting in lines. Also, I like it where I am.

We need members all across the EF spectrum. Our long term goal is to help change the mind set of many millions of people, worldwide. That's what it will take to rescue the biosphere. If we were to restrict our membership to those who are already living a low EF life, we would fail in that endeavor. The high EF people represent the mainstream, at least in north America. Furthermore, the high EF people typically are more influential than the low EF people. Our
community leaders, of all kinds, are almost always very high EF people. This is true worldwide. An extreme example is Al Gore. He has brought his ecological message to more people than perhaps anyone, and he also lives a very high EF lifestyle.

There is no possible way that we can convince millions of people to quickly shift from a high to a low EF lifestyle. They LIKE their high EF lifestyle. So we need to take a long term approach, and hope to change things over the next decade or two, or three. The low EF people serve as an example, perhaps a model, for the direction that human beings need to move. Our members who are currently high EF can also take a long term view, and look toward lowering their
EF gradually, over the coming decades. Perhaps they will buy a small car next time. Perhaps they will install a solar water heating system. Given a long term viewpoint, there are many things they can do.


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