Battlepanda: 15.5 acres


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

15.5 acres

Talking about's another one -- the ecological footprint quiz, with your "footprint" calculated in hectares.

According to this quiz, I am a big resource hog, taking up 15.5 hectares. In otherwords, if you accept the quiz's assumptions, we'd need 8.6 planets if everybody lived my lifestyle.

I am a little confused by the way the quiz is broken down. I expected a huge transportation footprint because I fly often, but what is this 8.4 hectares I incurred in "goods and services"? I do wish that they'd offer a little more detail as to how they achieved their results. Oh well, it's an internet quiz. And I suspect one that's more interested in making one feel guilty than arriving at any meaningful answers at that.

After you take the quiz, there is a Take Action! button that takes you to a page exhorting you to line-dry your laundry, take shorter showers and reduce the number of days your home is air-conditioned ("could be reduced with fan cooling or sweating") -- I've got three words for the makers of this quiz -- fuck that shit. I'm sorry if I'm coming off as a horrible, selfish, heat-intolerant asshole who cares more about long showers with adequate water pressure than the planet earth, but there is something fundamentally screwed up about such a mickey mouse, punitive approach to achieving ecological balance. Why no mention of supporting renewables or of political action to achieve higher fuel efficiency standards? Then perhaps we can have our air conditioners and get to turn it on.

Can we have a word for people who want to keep the earth in reasonably good shape but have no desire to eat less packaged food, get around by mule power or ration the number of hours I keep my television on? "How about 'selfish'" you say? Damn right. That's a good start. People are selfish. If you're relying on altruism and love of Gaia to save the planet then you might as well be resigned to the fact that we're going to hell in a handbasket. There is an anti-consumerist, sanctimonious edge to the environmentalist movement that is tremendously off-putting. To me, guilting people into personally decreasing their standard of life for the collective good is not something that should be done lightly -- it's like asking your friend for a favor...sometimes it needs to be done, but always with delicacy and an eye to preserving future good-will. The amount of water used in showering is nominal when compared to overall water usage (which IIRC goes mainly to irrigation). To ask people to shave minutes off their daily shower in order to help the environment is inconsiderate in the same way that it is inconsiderate to ask a friend to go way out of their way to do you a tiny favor.