Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Earth to Earthlings: Do you read me?

Regarding our planet on Earth Day



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A big tipping point in a number of ways was roughly the year 2000 when everyone was all akimbo about the Y2K bug — remember that paper tiger distraction? — and they should have had their eyes on far more critical issues. Number One would have been climate change and the fact that, the Earth's population had hit six billion — four times the number of people on the planet when our Swedish friend, Svante Arrhenius, made his 1898 discovery about it.

The year 2000 also marked the first time in the history of the planet that more people lived in urban centres than in rural settings, and the number of obese people on Earth equaled the number starving or under-nourished.

Even the term "ecological footprint" — usually now shortened to "eco-footprint" and used in a more general sense rather than as an actual metric — now looks like an historic alarm bell, one that first clanged back in 1992.

It was then that our own Dr. Bill Rees at UBC, working with his PhD student, Mathis Wackernagel, coined the name. It means a standardized measure of demand for natural resources compared to the Earth's ecological ability to regenerate, and lead to the idea of how many Earths it takes to support we Earthlings. Rees's, Wackernagel's, and many other scientists' take: if we keep on the track we're on, we aren't going to make it, sustainably speaking.

Scientists say that the way we live today, it's taking 1.5 Earths to support us. By the year 2030, it will take two planet Earths to support we Earthlings.

When they examine individual countries like the U.K., they estimate it would take three or even more than five Earths, in the case of the U.S., if everybody on the planet lived like the citizens of that country.

So what can you do, my singular fellow Earthling?

First, just for fun, figure out your own ecological footprint, by going to the site recommended by Wackernagel: Global Footprint Network.

Then consider all the things we've heard about over the years to keep ourselves and this singular planet healthy. In the food department, shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. Try a meatless dinner once a week. Stop buying bottled water. Find a really local supplier. Eat more fruits and veggies. Organic ones when you can. Wash up with non-toxic soaps and cleaners.

If you want more Earth Day-ish inspiration, you can choose to join the Earth Day's Network Billion Acts of Green, now pushing two billion acts.