[GRRN] Learning to Live Better

Brenda Platt (bplatt@ilsr.org)
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 09:14:35 +0000

Brenda Platt

Contact: Project coordinator Jimi Merkel (250)355-2585


Emerging on the heels of the failed Biosphere II experiment, The
Global Living Project (GLP) provides optimistic evidence that fulfilling
lifestyles are possible with radically reduced consumerism. Using the earth's
atmosphere as the dome and charged with the question, "Is it possible to
live equitably and harmoniously within the means of nature?", the 19
member team maintained detailed records of their consumption. The primary
research tool used was the ecological footprinting methodology developed by Dr.
Mathis Wackernagel and Dr. William Rees at the University of British Columbia
in Vancouver. Ecological footprinting measures the amount of land area we use
to support our current lifestyle. If we divide the earths productive surface
by the 6 billion human inhabitants, each of us has 5.5 acres. The average
Canadian uses 19 acres. Americans use 25 acres. The GLP team reduced their
footprint to 3.2 acres each. If humans choose to live equitably among
all species, leaving sufficient habitat for the 25 million other species on
the planet, we are left with one wise acre each. This is the current
challenge of the GLP.
To many, low consumption implies deprivation. Contrary to this
assumption, the team found essential links between reduced consumption
and high quality of life. To assess their quality of life the team
questioned their fulfillment and values around spending and consumption with
the help of the best seller "Your Money or Your Life".

(1) Equity among the earth's 6 billion humans was achieved. The
research team achieved a per person ecological footprint of 3.2 acres, well
below the 5.5 acres available AND 600% LESS THAN THE AVERAGE NORTH AMERICAN.

(2) Equity among all species was not achieved. The research team would
need to further reduce its footprint (3.2 acres) by a factor of 3 to be
functioning at a level of interspecies equity (1 acre).

(3) Lowering footprints resulted in increased quality of life. It can
be challenging to embrace a radically different lifestyle interdependant
with the earth. Although obstacles arose in various aspects of community
living, overall, participants agree that quality of life either stayed the same
or increased.

With population and consumerism growing exponentially on a finite
earth, the conditions for an ecological collapse will play out within our
lifetimes if we don't change our lifestyles. With the millenium coming to an
end, the GLP team asks urbanites and rural dwellers alike: Do we want a
peaceful and sustainable planet? If not now, when? If not me, who? These are
challenges fit for the times in which we live. It is a challenge perhaps born
of the wisdom that humans are only a single strand in the web of life.
This spring, the GLP will be touring the Kootenays, Vancouver,
Victoria and Seattle via bicycle to share their findings. For more
information on upcoming programs contact Jimi Merkel or Erica Sherwood at
(250) 355-2585,
GR4 C.17 RR#1, Winlaw, B.C., VOG 2JO
through email: jmerkel@netidea.com
or visit their website at http://www.netidea.com/~jmerkel/


Learning to Live Better
on a Smaller Footprint

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"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts"
H.D. Thoreau

James Merkel and Erica Sherwood
Global Living Project
GR4 C.17 RR#1
Winlaw B.C. VOG 2JO
Web site http://www.netidea.com/~jmerkel/