Projects for a sustainable world

If we want our children to inherit a healthy world, we need to move quickly to an eco-friendly lifestyle with 80% fewer CO2-emissions. By choosing carefully what we buy, adopting healthier diets and using clean technologies, we can slash our carbon emissions and also cut costs. Sustainability is all about adjusting our habits, for which no delay or investment is required, and only a little about technology. We can't wait for governments and business to take the lead. In a market-driven economy, what businesses make and what politicians do, is driven by our choices as consumers and voters. We vote every day with our wallets. What we buy in the supermarket today determines the world of our children tomorrow. Support our work or bring your own initiative to One Planet. With practical, affordable and innovative solutions, we work for the future of our children.

Do you want to know more about Ecological Footprint? Please read on below…

The impact people have on the earth can be translated into an ecological footprint, which is the hectares of land needed to support human consumption, including farmland to grow food and sea area to harvest fish. The CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas can also be translated into the hectares of forest needed to capture that CO2. Jan Juffermans explains Footprint in his book "The Usefulness & Need of the Global Footprint." You can download it here: http://www.janjuffermans.nl/publicaties/boekvoetafdruk.pdf  A shorter explanation in English can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_footprint

Ecological Footprint is the most widely accepted method for measuring sustainability. It includes direct and indirect sources CO2-emissions and is therefore a reliable indicator of sustainability.

It is estimated that around 1970, mankind passed the hugely important milestone or threshold called 'Overshoot'. Before that date, the Earth could produce more renewable resources each year (the green line) than all people together consumed (the red line.) This means: wood, fish, farmland, freshwater and so on. A sustainable existence "under the green line" is like living off the annual interest on money in the bank. After 1970, more meat, fish, oil, wood and other natural resources were consumed than than the Earth could replenish each year. This was because of the growing world population and increasing prosperity and consumption. When we passed the line of Ecological Overshoot in 1970, we started living off not only the interest on our bank account; we also started eating into the capital itself. So if our consumption keeps on increasing further, then we can be sure there will be less capital left over for our children and grandchildren in the future. They will inherit less from us than we inherited from our parents. This is the danger of Overshoot.

The Ecological Footprint per country is calculated each two years for about 150 countries and is presented in a big report, called the WWF Living Planet Report. http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/lpr_2016

In general, wealthy countries have a high footprint and consume more than their 'legitimate share' of the worlds resources due to their meat-rich diets and high energy consumption. If everyone lived like the average American, we would need five earths. Or like an oil-rich Arab, then 10-12 earths! So there is nothing longterm sustainable about ‘the American Dream’ and it is a consumer lifestyle that should not be copied by other cultures. It takes vast amounts of fossil fuels, minerals and artificial fertilizers to maintain the level of consumption of the average American and the side-effects are toxic waste, environmental degradation and CO2-emissions far beyond their own borders. If we care for our grandchildren, then we have to move beyond the old linear-economic-model based on unbridled ‘take-make-waste’ processes, and move to a circular economy where everything is reduced, reused and recycled. See how Ray Anderson of InterfaceFlor transformed his company!

'Ecological overshoot' and it’s spinoff – climate change – is our biggest global threat, greater than nuclear war or pandemics, because it destabilises global temperatures and affects all life, not only man. Yet Overshoot is a concept that is not much talked about. When the earths natural resources are overloaded through overfishing, cutting down of natural forests, destruction of topsoil, coal-fired powerstations etc. - then they decline at an accelerating rate. The atmosphere warms up, the oceans begin to acidify, reducing coral and crustaceans. The food chain of all animals and plants - the basic support mechanism of life on earth – becomes compromised. Humans now appropriate about 40% of the planet’s total photosynthetic capacity!

Meat and dairy-rich diets have the biggest detrimental effect on climate change of everything we do, more than the entire transport sector together. The methane from one cow in a year rivals the climate change effect of one car in a year. (See Inspiration 'FAO: Livestock's Long Shadow' and Project 'TEDx Talks'). In addition, common products like cotton and concrete also cause huge CO2-emissions, as well as water and pesticide use during the production process. Coal is the most carbon-rich fossil fuel in terms of CO2 emissions - yet we still burn millions of tonnes of coal a year in the Netherlands, using the atmosphere as a public sewer.

Scientists say we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% over 30 years, compared to 1990 levels, in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The paradox is that a modern and attractive lifestyle with 80% less CO2 is already possible without any delay or major investment, through a combination of behavioral change (70-80% of the solution) and the application of clean technologies (20-30% of the solution.) See: Inspiration - Project Perspective.

Everyone has a responsibility to reduce his or her own personal footprint and to be an example. However, in a society that is organized around money, an economic stimulus will be needed to encourage the transition to sustainability. What incentive is that? - 20% price difference between a carbon-rich and a carbon-poor lifestyle. See Project: P+ Live @ Night.

The horizon of our grandchildren is not far off. We still have the choice of a 'happy ending' or a 'bad ending' - see Inspiration: Milo and the Magic Stones. A 'happy ending' is still possible, if every one of us sets an example by reducing our own Ecological Footprint.