Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Footprint Game

There's a new "calculate-your-footprint" interactive game out from American Public Media. (Others were previously blogged here.)

As a calculator, it's pretty standard (and, indeed, I got what's more or less my standard result: If everyone lived like you, we would need 2.5 Earths...). It's far more high-tech and visual than most, though (you even make an entirely irrelevant avatar!). It also collects some demographic data, and allows you to compare your scores, not only with U.S. and world averages, but with various subgroups of your choice (I use a little more electricity than most low-income people, but drive far less than most Democrats).

As usual, I'm surprised by how minimally things like transportation and garbage figure in to my lower-than-average-but-still-too-high score. Those are the elements we're accustomed to thinking about, to feeling guilty about and adjusting. But if I took the bus everywhere and recycled every bit of my garbage (man, I miss composting), it wouldn't change the fact that housing and food are my main problems. This despite the fact that I live in a small apartment in a 30-unit building, and eat a diet that is majority local and/or organic with only a little bit (I estimated 2%) of meat.

Electricity (I'm running, mainly, the usual fridge and electric range, a laptop, a handful of light bulbs-- some of which are fluorescent). Food. When these are one's most serious sources of wastefulness, despite real moderation, it serves as a reminder that large structural changes (in power generation, in food production and distribution) can be far more effective in reducing one's "footprint" than adjusting one's personal habits. Of course, the latter is essential too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea, here I go to have a look.

Climate matters, for sure. Trying to fight subzero temperatures is one of the worst problems, and might skew things - not every place on earth requires such a fight.

Transportation... I like where we live. We walk everywhere, go through a tank of gas/month or less now. Suburbia kills.