Bryden Allen's Website

Degrees of Being Green


I have always engaged in many outdoor activities, and all my friends in these activities support very “green” principles. Thus we all believe we should not pollute at all and we must all maintain all our current wildlife. So we are all more-or-less united in this good “green” thinking.
            But I am also a fundamental egalitarian. And this belief of mine poses some terrible problems.
            Now many of my friends have bought land in the country and have settled there. And there they have been very good and have carefully supported all the wildlife on their land. And many people applaud such actions as being the ultimate in “being green”. But I think there must be limitations on such actions.
            Such people are forced to do a large amount of car driving to be able to get to their retreats. This pollutes the atmosphere. Also their land doesn’t really support too much genuine wild life. Real wildlife likes to do its own thing – i.e. to propagate its own species to the detriment of other species (just like we do). To allow this to happen, wildlife parks must be quite large to allow all the various wildlife types to form an ecological balance between the competing species there. Private land is simply too small to allow this to happen. Also we in Australia have a large amount of land, which we can buy easily. People in other countries don’t have this option.

 

 

This diagram is the only diagram I could find.

Unfortunately it is unreadable. It shows that the people

of third world countries have much lower footprints than

people from advanced countries. Perhaps it is unreadable

because wealthy people don't want this fact to be known.

I believe that we have to treat ourselves, like all other people in the world, and measure how “green” we are in terms of our footprint – i.e. how much of the Earth’s resources we each use to maintain our lifestyle. This is the only fair way we can judge how “green” we are. And measuring this footprint isn’t an easy thing to do.
            In all my work I assume we form green communities that are self-sufficient in our food, water and energy. (I assume the minimum size of a community is 100 people – otherwise this task becomes too hard.) And then I can work out the amount of land this community must use to look after itself. And this gives me a very precise footprint. All this work is shown in detail in my “Green Living – book”.
            But, if you live in a normal Australian city, then it is almost impossible to have a low footprint. We all consume food, energy and water, which is obtained in the easiest possible way without any thought about the pollution it is causing. So our footprints are bound to be quite high. And, on average, Australians have some of the highest footprints in the world. So it is hard be very green here. Although, if person has a mostly vegetarian diet, rarely uses a car, and don’t require too much house space, then this person’s footprint could become quite reasonably low.
            People with low footprints then have a huge capacity to look after our wildlife by giving the land, which they are then not using, over to wildlife. This action would be wonderful. This is what I want people to think about here.

 

I want to now devote the rest of this webpage to telling you, my reader, how low your footprint could be, and hence the various possible levels of “being green” you can aspire to.
            Our most fundamental requirement is that we all must have adequate food to live a healthy life. We don’t need overseas trips, large houses or even too much car travel. But we must have enough food. And to produce this food, we must use a significant amount of land, water and energy. So this discussion must now become a little technical on the growth of our essential food.
            The most fundamental fact we have to remember is that it takes about a cubic meter of water (1,000 litres) to produce a kilo of dry grain (either wheat or maize). And a kilo of grain is roughly equal to the food requirements of a person’s diet for a day. (A kilo provides slightly more energy than than a person actually needs. But, if slightly less grain is grown then other minor foods can grown instead to give the essential vitamins and amino acids, which can be lacking in a pure grain diet.)
            Now clearly land, nutrients, sunlight and energy are also needed to grow this food. But, if you do all the many sums, then you find that the limiting factor is water. Let me explain.
            Over the whole world, the average yearly rainfall is approximately one meter in depth. Now, as there are 365 days in a year, I will say that a person needs 400 kilos of grain per year to survive for a year. This means that to obtain enough water, on average a person must have 400 m2 of land to obtain this water. But, if you do all the essential sums, then you will find that this land (on average) can also supply the crop-land, sunlight, energy (PV panels) and nutrients (bearing in mind that absolutely all nutrients will be recycled). So theoretically 400 m2 (0.04 ha) could be a minimum footprint.
            But most land is not just “average” land. Often land is too dry, too wet, too steep, too hot, too cold, too rocky, etc. to produce much food. With work, such awkward land can be partially used to provide some of our requirements (which we need to produce our food). Thus steep, rocky ground is actually perfect to collect water and then this water can be used on dry land. But there must be limits on what can be done. I think it is best to say a minimum footprint is probably 1,000 m2 (0.1 ha). And there certainly are poor people, living in densely populated areas (i.e. Bangladesh) whose footprints are of this order. So I will call this to be the minimum footprint.

 

So let us now consider the world as a whole. The only time I have actually read an average world footprint it was stated to be 2.3 ha. This article did not state how this figure was obtained. But I found that if I divided the Earth’s land area by the world’s population I came up with this same figure. So I assume this is how this figure was derived.
            This was a few years ago and the world’s population has increased a little since then. So this figure is now probably 2.0 ha. So the minimum footprint I quoted above is twenty times smaller than the current footprint. So we have a little a bit of leeway.

So now I can define some different degrees of “Being Green”.

 

I think this labour intensive, vegetarian form of life would have a footprint less

than 0.1 ha (this is in Vietnam). So I call this being "fanatically green".

1)         Fanatically Green


This level of being green would apply to people whose footprints are 0.1 ha or less. I would admire such a person enormously. (I actually admire all fanatics – be they climbers, terrorists, runners, singers, dancers or anything. I think is wonderful that some people should be prepared to go way out on a limb on their own special interest.) But I am not a fanatic myself. And, on the whole, I don’t expect most people to become fanatics. So there won’t be many people in this world, who would be prepared to be “fanatically green”.

 

I would like to live in the style shown in this picture.

I call this "keenly green.

2)         Keenly Green


This level of being green would apply to people whose footprints were 0.2 ha or less (but above 0.1 ha). This is the level I would like to live in myself. This, of course, is the level I have calculated accurately in my “Green Living – book” - so I know precisely all the conditions that would apply.
            The point about this level is that a person can live quite comfortably with this footprint. Thus this level allows a person to have a normal diet with an adequate amount of meat. One can travel around as much as one likes using public transport. (PV panels can in fact supply all the energy a person really needs with no pollution.)
            However one cannot to live at this level and maintain our current city lifestyle. I personally think the way we currently live is ghastly. I love a certain amount of city life. But the way I have organised my public green transport, I could travel to the city more easily than a person can from the suburbs. All one has to do plan things correctly and not to live in large isolating houses. But unfortunately most people absolutely refuse to think about different ways of living. So most people would not be prepared to become “keenly green”.

 

3)         Sensibly Green


This level of being green would apply to people whose footprints were between 0.2 ha to 1.0 ha. A person with a footprint close to 1.0 ha can to live a normal city life. Apart from their pollution, the majority of people living in Europe, China and India already have footprints less than this value. And we can use energy derived PV panels and other green sources to stop pollution without any significant change of lifestyle. So this is a sensible course for all sensible people to take.
            If people’s footprint is in this range, then this allows the possibility that a World Wildlife Park could be setup. And eventually this park could encompass half the globe. Naturally this is a complex idea.
            Much of the world’s land is already in the form of parks, reserves, forests and unused land, which could be incorporated in such a park. So this would be a start. But, if a law is passed saying that no person can have a footprint greater than 1.0 ha, then this park could be extended to half the globe. So all wildlife would have sufficient land to thrive and the world’s huge variety of flora and fauna would be maintained.
            Of course the rich people, who own much of this extra land, would object violently to their loss. But these people should form a minority. Thus they should be outvoted. So this is a wonderful possibility.

 

This is as far as I want to go as far as how people “green” are. But also, as a person who is dedicated to stopping Climate Change, I need to make a distinction between the following two classes of people.
 
4)         Stop Pollution People
So these are the people who are prepared to vote against all international pollution. Principally this means stopping CO2 pollution. But pollution of the ocean by over-fishing (or by destructive runoff) should be included.

 

5)         Pollution as normal People
This, at the moment, unfortunately consists of the majority of people in the world, who find that the job of changing to a non-polluting world much too awkward. (MyA Special Period to stop Climate Change - book”(pdf) covers this problem in great detail.)

            Now in the current world, most people seek to increase their wealth because this will increase their status in the world. However, if we are to have any hope of stopping this situation, we must provide people with a different status symbol. So I say we must give status to people who actually live in a “green” manner.
            So my proposal is that all people, who are “green”, should tell the world openly and precisely how “green” they are. So these people would wear a badge (perhaps one like the one I distribute when performing). This badge would proclaim what this person’s precise footprint was. (People, who find it too hard to calculate their footprint, could at least proclaim that they support of a non-polluting political party.) Now I know myself how hard it is, in the current world, to live in a “green” manner. But eventually some people will manage the feat of being able to demonstrate a low footprint. Then, when the people do this, they should boast about the fact and proclaim this important fact to the world. When a person finally does something, which we all know is really hard to do, they should be able to receive all the admiration they truly deserve.
            Now I know that such footprint badge sounds like a triviality (and the operation could be abused by people proclaiming false facts via a phony badge). But we must try to do something like this. As soon as some people really proclaim their beliefs in public, other people will start talking about the problem. Status is important to all people. We must show the world that we are proud to be people who don’t pollute and want to support our abundant wildlife. And we don’t admire people who are just rich (or famous) and are not prepared to try to help form a better world at all.

            (In my “A Special Period to stop Climate Change – book”, I also show how an action, such as this, can eventually shame all people into helping to create a greener world.)

 

 

 

My next normal webpage is  “The Benefits of Self-Sufficient Green Communities.

 

         You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages),

or "Green Living" (which introduces this major set of webpages),

 

Updated on 11/11/2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can click on any of the following pictures and this will send you to the relevant webpage.