Disposable Planet?
August 21, 2002 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Disposable Planet? Find out how many planets we would need if everyone lived like you.
posted by zoid (62 comments total)
 
If everyone lived like you, we would need 1.4 planets.

Food 0.6 | Mobility 0.2 | Shelter 0.7 | Goods/Services 1.1

Total Footprint 2.6

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 3.3 global hectares per person. Worldwide, there exist 1.8 biologically productive global hectares per person.


-------

Now that was a bit of a surprise. I consider(ed) my lifestyle to be scrupulously low-impact, environmentally speaking.

How depressing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:38 AM on August 21, 2002


I got 1.5 planets, although Taiwan wasn't on the list of countries so I had to use China and Hong Kong as the closest equivalent city. I would have gotten a better score but I just hate having people on the back of my motorcycle.
posted by Poagao at 2:41 AM on August 21, 2002


Previous discussion. I believe it's the same quiz.
I have been known to be wrong. Quite often.
posted by gummi at 2:42 AM on August 21, 2002


After growing up in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Southern California, I'm atoning for my sins (just got off the bus) at 0.6 on transportation, but I came in at 2.1 planets overall, pretty good for Japan, but...sorry, descendents. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement website linked a few months ago had a relevant quote: (paraphrasing) Procreating today is like renting rooms in a burning building and asking your children to move into them.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:55 AM on August 21, 2002


Hey, Poagao, pretty good score. Who do you think, an avg Taiwan or Hong Kong citizen, would get a better score?
BTW, did you expect to find Taiwan on a pulldown list of countries? Is it often listed separately? I am curious because I sometimes deal with international medical conferences, and Taiwanese sometimes get EXTREMELY angry when they apply for visas as Taiwanese citizens and are then asked to get visas processed by Beijing. (This is not a question about the merits of Taiwanese nationhood.)
posted by planetkyoto at 3:07 AM on August 21, 2002


I compared [life in Australia a year ago] to [life in UK today] and got 1.2 planets and 1.6 respectively - yet there I had a car, and lived in a bigger place.

Guess those extra few hours in aeroplanes really chew through the crustal rock and magma.
posted by rory at 4:06 AM on August 21, 2002


Uhh.... I got 5.4 planets, and I was thinkin' that was low. Maybe not.
posted by Shapiroa at 4:17 AM on August 21, 2002


I got 3.2 planets, lower than I expected.
posted by john_son at 4:38 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 1.3 planets.

global hectares Food 1 Mobility 0 Shelter 0.8 Goods/Services 0.6

Total Footprint 2.4 In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 5.3 global hectares per person.


Cool, I knew never going anywhere would pay off one day. Now what do I win?

I notice this quiz is clearly biased against those with super powers: 12. Approximately how many hours do you spend flying each year?
posted by stuporJIX at 4:47 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 1.3 planets.

Category: global hectares

Food 1.5
Mobility 0
Shelter 0.4
Goods/Services 0.4
Total Footprint 2.3

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 8.8 global hectares per person.

-----------------------

The last time I did this I had 4. something as an answer, which was wrong. I had to fudge my answers a bit to make it more in line with reality. This test is flawed in that it doesn't break down the categories enough. The food question should be broken down into individual food groups, for example, and in mobility they should ask you if you possess a car instead of assuming that you do. Either way, if you get anything over 1 Earth, there's a problem.

I have X-Ray VisionTM.
posted by ashbury at 5:25 AM on August 21, 2002


Could someone update this thing with a calculation of contributed benefits included into the mix?
posted by HTuttle at 5:33 AM on August 21, 2002


1.9 planets.
Food 1
Mobility 0.8
Shelter 0.6
Goods/Services 1.1
Total Footprint 3.5

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 5.3 global hectares per person.
-----

I suspect most Americans will be quite shocked at the values they get. It's bad enough for Western Europeans like me to see just how much of the world's resources we're using.
posted by salmacis at 5:35 AM on August 21, 2002


"if you get anything over 1 Earth, there's a problem."

How do you figure that?
posted by nthdegx at 5:36 AM on August 21, 2002


Ah, perhaps I have misunderstood you, ashbury. If you're saying there is a problem with your lifestyle if you get anything over 1 Earth then I take your point.

If however you mean if you get anything over 1 Earth there is a problem with the test, then how do you figure that?
posted by nthdegx at 5:38 AM on August 21, 2002


"I suspect most Americans"... will stop when they see foreign words like "litres" and "kilometers."

good god, what's next: a quiz that relies on the "celsius?"
posted by ronv at 5:42 AM on August 21, 2002


StuporJIX

"Approximately how many hours do you spend flying each year?"

I think this clearly has an effect on your ecological footprint. The 'test' is obviously biased - as is the distribution of wealth and resources on a global scale - so really it needs to be.

Stavrosthewonderchicken - which country are you in 3.3 is a low average, or at least in comparison to the UK where we have 5.3

out of interest i had a footprint of 2.8 hectares or 1.6 planets. Not great but it would be difficult to achieve 1 planet living in the uk i think.
posted by berto at 5:47 AM on August 21, 2002


Now that was a bit of a surprise. I consider(ed) my lifestyle to be scrupulously low-impact, environmentally speaking...How depressing.

Stav, it's only depressing if you believe this test is somehow "accurate," rather than intended to make a point. I just did the test as a 50 year old strict vegetarian eating mostly locally grown organic food, who rarely rides alone in a car (and then only 10km per week), lives in a multi-story apartment building, often uses bicycle or animal transportation, and flies less than 3 hours per year. My total? 1.5 earths. Give me a break. (Of course, maybe I'm trying to rationalize my prior total of 6+ earths).
posted by pardonyou? at 5:49 AM on August 21, 2002


it would be difficult to achieve 1 planet living in the uk i think.

It's possible, just. You have to share a green-designed house under 30 square metres with six other people in a town of a thousand with a Manchester climate, eat Vegan food grown organically and locally, travel mostly by foot, bicycle, or oxen, and generate 'much less' waste than others in your neighbourhood. On the upside, you get to use electricity as long as it's energy-conserving and efficient, and you get 1-25 km of public-transport travel a week.

Of course, if they'd included an internet-usage question we'd all be screwed.
posted by rory at 5:59 AM on August 21, 2002


A test like this can never be particularly accurate. However, it's designed to demonstrate to the likes of us in the developed world just how much of the world's resources we're using. As a test, I went back and re-did mine with the most ecologically aware answers, and I don't think it's at all likely that anyone in the UK can get below 1.0 earths. If you're American, you'd probably need to live like a hermit to get below 1.5 earths. That's not a reason to dismiss the test though. That's the fact of how things are.
posted by salmacis at 6:00 AM on August 21, 2002


Planets: 4.1
Food: 2
Mobility: .7
Shelter: 2.5
Goods/Services: 2.2
Total: 7.4 Avg: 9.9

Easily the highest values so far. Shelter was high because I live with one other person in a small (1000 sq. ft.) detached home. They didn't even ask about land which I suspect would have only added to my score.

The food question made me laugh because the " often" answer for meat/dairy was once a week. I thought I was doing well by instituting a "vegetarian day."

The most difficult was the amount of processed, refined, imported food. I pride myself on making nearly everything from scratch, shopping at the local farmer's market, and never eating fast food. But to make bread I have to buy processed flour, salt, sugar, yeast, etc. Nearly everything I cook with other than the fruits/ vegetables I grow or buy locally is processed, refined or imported.

Finally, the goods/services amount is mainly derived from where you live, the only question is the amount of waste you generate compared to your neighbors.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:14 AM on August 21, 2002


berto - I'm in South Korea, and it actually surprises me a bit that the average is so low here, heavily industrialized as it has become in recent decades. Still lots of subsistence and market farmers in the countryside, though, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:16 AM on August 21, 2002


Does anybody else think their numbers are weird? There seems to be a problem with their use of the metric system:
5. What is the size of your home?
2500 square metres or larger
1900-2500 square metres
1500-1900 square metres
1000 -1500 square metres
500-1000 square metres
500 square metres or smaller
One square meter[/metre] is 10.76 square feet, so they seem to be asking about residences in the 5,380 - 26,900 square foot range. 26,900 square feet?

Methinks the numbers in question five were originally in square feet, but since everyone is going to read this question differently and make their own best guess it kind of throws off the test (I don't know which way). There could well be similar errors with the questions regarding travel distances and fuel efficiency.

Full disclosure: I take public transportation all the time, and think I'm below average in consumption for my part of the world, but I got more than four earths. I am sure that I consume much more in every respect than the average human :(.
posted by Songdog at 6:36 AM on August 21, 2002


Food 2
Mobility 1.5
Shelter 1
Goods/Services 2.3
Total Footprint 6.8

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 9.7 global hectares per person.

If everyone lived like I do, we would require 3.8 planets.
posted by Gargantuan at 6:37 AM on August 21, 2002


SLofG, you're no longer the highest. I got 6 earths (slightly down from the 6.5 last time). What can I say? I'm a meat eater, a good chunk of my food is processed, I live in a 2,200 square foot stand-alone house (with running water, thankyouverymuch), I drive by myself in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon, and I drive it 30 miles a day. I never use public transportation, and I fly several times a year. The "good" news is that I'm only slightly above the average of my fellow countrypeople.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:39 AM on August 21, 2002


Berto - I meant it like: "I just flew over from Nepal." "Wow, your arms must be tired." Geddit?
posted by stuporJIX at 6:39 AM on August 21, 2002


Yeah, pardonyou?, I can't wait until the rest of the USA wakes up and starts taking this test.

The only reason why my mobility was so low (.7) is because I work out of the home and rarely go anywhere in the Jetta except with my significant Other. Two years ago I lived in So Cal and drove everywhere, by myself.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on August 21, 2002


Food 1.5

Mobility 0.3

Shelter 0.9

Goods/Services 0.8

Total Footprint 3.5
In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 9.7 global hectares per person.


I drive very little. I think this is probably about as good as I could do living in Dallas without going strictly vegan or something. Still, not too bad. I had 1.9 planets.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:04 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 2.3 planets.
Food                 2.8
Mobility 0.2
Shelter 0.6
Goods/Services 0.5
Total Footprint 4.1
In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 9.7 global hectares per person.
-------------------------
Crap. Everyone living like me needs 2 and a half planets? Of course, anyone taking this test is using a computer, and that's living better than some percentage of the population straight away. I try to keep costs down, and use less. But the thing is, everyone is trying to get you to use MORE. How do you fight that other than just using less and less on your own?
posted by psychotic_venom at 7:26 AM on August 21, 2002


Food 1.3
Mobility 0.3
Shelter 0.6
Goods/Services 0.8
Total Footprint 3

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 9.7 global hectares per person.

1.7 planets. Score! If we assimilate Venus, we'll be golden.
posted by The Michael The at 7:27 AM on August 21, 2002


I swear I've seen this on MetaFilter before.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:27 AM on August 21, 2002


I swear I've seen this on MetaFilter before.

You have -- you scored 3.6 planets.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:32 AM on August 21, 2002


OK so how is everyone getting their goods/services down so low. I can understand the low housing (apartment vs. detached dwelling) and low mobility (unfortunately although I don't drive much I fly home to So. Cal twice a year) but the only question pertaining to goods/services was how much waste do you use compared to your neighbors. I marked "less" but still my score is 2.2. Is it the house thing again? The area I live in?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:33 AM on August 21, 2002


By the way, I took the test twice, once as a woman and once as a man. My values are exactly the same so why is this question necessary to the quiz?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:35 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 3.8 planets.

If my city had a decent mass transit system, I could probably shave off a planet or so...
posted by grabbingsand at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2002


Probably for the marketing thing, Secret.

I got 3.3 planets. Not bad, considering I 'm a fairly shameless meat eater and I generate as much waste as my neighbors do, and I fly to visit my parents in California a couple of times a year.
On the other hand, I normally drive a 4-stroke motorcycle that gets 70 mpg if I'm really careful with it, and I only drive my car one or two days a week with my sister and/or girlfriend in it.
posted by SpecialK at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2002


stuporJIX - Doh I geddit!

Maybe I'll get you a new cape to make up for my presumptuosness...
posted by berto at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 4.3 planets.

The shelter thing makes a big difference. I recalculated mine(Stupid metrically illiterate American) and came down from 6.7 planets needed to sustain my so-called sane lifestyle.
posted by jaronson at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2002


4.5 for me in the northeast USA... If I had public transportation between here and work I'm sure that number would go down. It did make me sit down and think about how many of my meals come in a frozen box though.....
posted by quibx at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2002


But my point above, quibx, is that even though my meals don't come from a box, they are all homemade, the ingredients are all still processed, refined, or imported.

Still, the homemade vs. frozen box scores nutritionally.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2002


By the way, I took the test twice, once as a woman and once as a man. My values are exactly the same so why is this question necessary to the quiz?

Maybe they are collecting demographic information?

Thanks pardonyou?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2002


jaronson said:

The shelter thing makes a big difference. I recalculated mine(Stupid metrically illiterate American) and came down from 6.7 planets needed to sustain my so-called sane lifestyle.

Yes, but, as I said above, the test makers appear metrically illiterate. Or at least their editors are. They almost certainly mean square feet, not square meters. 2,500 square feet is a very big residence in most parts of the world. 2,500 square meters is over nine and a half tennis courts. Heck, even 500 square meters is big (it's 5,380 square feet - that's a 73 foot by 73 foot apartment, for heaven's sake).
posted by Songdog at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2002


Food 1.5
Mobility .5
Shelter .6
Goods/Services 1

Total Footprint 2

As I suspected, food did me in, even if I am a public transportation whore. I suppose that the only way to score 1 is to never leave the house or reside in an Auschwitz death camp, assuming of course that the meager allotment of food granted to prisoners is vegetarian and unprocessed.
posted by ed at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2002


>Procreating today is like renting rooms in a burning building and asking your children to move into them.

Bullshit. This is true only if nothing is ever invented that will help the environment and if no cultures ever make economically-motivated changes their lifestyle that positively effect (affect?) the environment. In other words, it's only true if nothing changes in the future, which is obviously false.
posted by goethean at 10:11 AM on August 21, 2002


I took the quiz twice: once as a citizen of the US and once as a citizen of Ethiopia. I gave the same answers (adjusted for the difference in how the questions were posed) both times. As a US citizen, I got a score of 4 (2.2 planets); as an Ethiopian, I got a score of 5.2 (2.9 planets). It seems to me that if the footprints are different, then that's a function of the local infrastructure and not my style of living. Since my footprint was lower in the US, does this indicate some sort of factor that takes into account a more efficient infrastructure
posted by joaquim at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2002


Food 1.3
Mobility 0.7
Shelter 1.3
Goods/Services 1.4
Total Footprint 4.7

If everyone lived like you, we would need 2.6 planets.

Um.. the thing is, and I don't mean this in an imperialist or horrible-person way... more like in a strictly-speaking and scientific way.. the "If everyone lived like you" is a really big "if" i mean, technically that's impossible. There's bound to be some inequality in living conditions based on who the economic/military superpower is at any given point..

Still, this isn't saying that the whole world isn't a bunch of short-sited and self serving bastards. We could all stand to monitor our consumption vs. production.

I dunno. it's just kinda a silly test. Like Pardonyou? said, it's just prolly making a point. It's a good point, but What Now?? It doesn't give solutions. Especially for us city-dwelling folks where it's practically impossible to buy things that aren't in waste producing packages.. almost impossible to get around without generating waste (bicycling is great, but lack of bike lanes mean using the sidewalk means getting the occasional ticket.. it's like government is working towards using MORE waste, which of course it is...) so much waste.

okay. it's depressing. but what do do without having conservation be the core value in one's life??
posted by vomitous at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like you, we would need 3.1 planets.

Food 0.6
Mobility 1.1
Shelter 1.4
Goods/Services 2.5
Total Footprint 5.6


In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 1.2 global hectares per person.

Egads! I thought eating meat and flying a lot were going to get me but apparently it's the goods/services, whatever that is.
posted by lia at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2002


Gulp.

Food 2.8
Mobility 3.6
Shelter 0.9
Goods/Services 3.1
Total Footprint 10.4

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 9.7 global hectares per person.
posted by perplexed at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2002


...and I just realized I screwed up on the size of living quarters question, so I'm looking at like a 12 or 13.
posted by perplexed at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2002


wow. I've never felt so guilty for living in the country before. Between commute and the big house, apparently I'm part of what's wrong with the world. *sigh* just like my mom always said.
posted by redsparkler at 12:16 PM on August 21, 2002


At college I take 3.6 planets, but when I'm home in the summer, it's more like 10 or 11. Fortunately, not everyone lives like me, not even close.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2002


If everyone lived like me, we'd need 2.9 planets.

This means I'm doing something dangerously wrong. I have strived all my life to be slothful and wasteful. I believe in George Carlin's sentiments about world population and how we humans will go the way of dinosaurs. People keep talking about saving the planet. The planet doesn't need saving. The planet could care less. We're just doing it to ourselves. "The world's not going anywhere. WE ARE." The planet will shrug us off its shoulders like fleas on a dog's ear. Probably to be replaced by sentient cockroaches a few millenia later.

So I think this test is biased or inaccurate or something. If we all lived like me, we should need a few extra solar systems. I feel terribly impotent. I thought I was making more of a mark on our ecology than this. Dammit.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:31 PM on August 21, 2002


impossible to buy things that aren't in waste producing packages

Before you get too depressed about 'waste-producing packages', think for a moment how much waste there would be without packaging. Before the invention of plastic wrap and styrofoam, a lot of food went to waste, and a lot of delicate equipment broke in transit. Sure, there are examples of needless overpackaging (the 'long-boxes' that CDs used to come in in the US until sanity prevailed in the mid-90s, for example), but not all packaging is overpackaging.

Anyone worried about waste should read William Rathje's book Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. And I see he has another that looks relevant, too...
posted by rory at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2002


More proof that we just gotta get crackin' on that Moon-colonization plan! Let's go, folks!
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:10 PM on August 21, 2002


DenOfSizer: moon colonization has been a dream of mine for years. I'm glad to see more people getting on that particular bandwagon!
posted by insomnyuk at 2:34 PM on August 21, 2002


apparently you max out at about 16 planets (footprint of 29.5), i just like to have an idea of what the scale is. It does make me glad that we all don't live like CEO's and that there are malthusian processes to keep the population low.
posted by NGnerd at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2002


Planets 3.3
Food 3.1
Mobility 0.6
Shelter 0.8
Goods/services 1.4
Total footprint 5.9
Average for my country (Australia) is 7.6

I suspect that the shelter and mobility scores were skewed by having three children. Of course, this doesn't take into account the impact my children will have and there must be some sort of multiplication factor for people who breed, making their overall impact larger.
posted by dg at 7:24 PM on August 21, 2002


Yippee! Once we use up this planet Space exploration will finally take off and we can all move! I want a castle on Europa. We can bring some dolphins or something.

Sorry.
posted by Grod at 7:59 PM on August 21, 2002


Almost forgot:

Food            1.7
Mobility        0.1
Shelter         0.6
Goods/Services  0.5
Total Footprint 2.9

posted by Grod at 8:07 PM on August 21, 2002


Won't work, Grod, the dolphins will have already left.
posted by dg at 8:07 PM on August 21, 2002


In that case, I'm going to store golf balls in my amazing grey crystal fish bowl.
posted by Grod at 8:32 PM on August 21, 2002


Planet Kyoto: I have no idea who would fare better on this test as far as Taiwan vs. Hong Kong goes. Hong Kong was listed on the city list, so I choose it. Taipei wasn't listed. Taiwan is usually listed on country lists, sometime alone, sometime as "Taiwan, Province of China", and then sometimes not at all. I'm not all up-in-arms about it, although being a reservist in the ROC's conscript army, I could be up in arms about it at some point in the future.
posted by Poagao at 9:22 PM on August 21, 2002


>>Procreating today is like renting rooms in a burning building and asking your children to move into them.

>Bullshit. This is true only if nothing is ever invented that will help the environment and if no cultures ever make economically-motivated changes their lifestyle that positively effect (affect?) the environment. In other words, it's only true if nothing changes in the future, which is obviously false.

Of course. It's going to change for the worse. Much, much worse. So : procreating today is like renting rooms in a burning building and asking your children to move into them, and then once they get settled in amongst the flames, putting bullets through their little skulls.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:44 PM on August 22, 2002


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