The first time I measured my PPP (planets per person – the number of planets it would take to support a world population of consumers like me) I was aghast! My family clocked in at an astounding 4.4 planets and 19.7 acres on ecofoot.org, which I could eek down to a 4.3 ppp with a bit less meat eating. But that is already down to such a razor thin margin it might mean divorce – just so my husband can get his three squares a day! We are a composting, reducing, repairing, refusing-excess-everything-we-can-family. But my husband travels for work and those hours on a plane really pushed our ppp count way up there. Now, if I take my foot of the airplane pedal it gets my planets down the 3.6. But this means I can only allow my bodily self in a plane for 10-25 hours a year, that’s one trip home to New Zealand. So I think shit, and re-calculate on myfootprint.org, with it’s more finely tuned questions I come in at modest 3.27 ppp. Which objectively speaking seems as good as I can do. But the quiz asked if you buy eco-cleaning products. Are you kidding? I MAKE my own cleaning products out of vinegar and baking soda. I’m doing an environmental studies degree and proselytizing with friends and neighbors to “save the planet” too! What about some ppp credit for that?
It’s all great on a subjective micro feel-better-about-my-big-ass-western-privilege-sized-carbon-emissions. And really what can I do about my footprint? Wear an old pillowcase like a house elf, start dumpster diving and squirrel eating as my version of urban hunting and gathering. I am the first to admit that the ecological paradigm shift isn’t coming quickly enough. We can recycle our asses off, but until the majority of first-worlders wake up to what our SUV driving, surf n’ turf eating habits, are wrecking out there, we are doomed. That’s what measuring your ppp is for, to wake you up.
A consensus of international scientists say we are moving toward critical tipping points in the Earth’s systems that could lead to rapid and irreversible change. The time for incremental steps – i.e getting my ppp down – is long gone. We need fearless and enforced carbon mitigation NOW, along with serious regulation of fishing quotas, enforcement of the Clean Air and Water Acts etc etc etc…
The number most touted is 2050, any projected environmental disaster way you look at it, that’s the year scientists predict the shit is really going proverbial. It is forecast there will be nothing left in the oceans by 2050, if we keep up current overfishing. When I go to the Santa Monica Fish market, once every three weeks or so, and buy my 2 fillets of Pacific Cod – listed as a Best Choice on my fish buying guide – I’m surrounded by people buying pounds of precious threatened blue fin tuna, horrifyingly wasteful shrimp and, almost extinct Chilean Seabass. They shop and eat as if there is no tomorrow, and ironically, objectively that is what they could be creating. I don’t feel sanctimonious going home with my little packet of fish. I feel scared, hopefully that’s a subjective metaphysical reality, not the objective truth.