While it’s far easier to externalise the major driver of global warming to the activities of fossil fuel monopolies each and every one of us is engaged in daily behaviours that unknowingly contribute to a massive carbon footprint. I had no idea how much damage each of us was doing until I read internationally acclaimed science writer Julian Cribb’s book ‘Surviving the 21st century.’ According to his exhaustive research in our lifetime each one of us will have used almost 100,000 litres of fresh water, displaced 750 tons of topsoil, consumed 720 tons of metals and materials, used 5.4 British thermal units of energy, caused the release of 288 tons of CO2, caused the release of 320kg of toxic chemicals, wasted 13.4 tons of food and helped destroy 800 square metres of forest. In other words we are using the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste, asserts Cribb. If we keep going and maintain these wasteful patterns of woeful ignorance by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us, warns Cribb. . Needless to say we only have one. It is also the rich and well off like us who consume far more resources than those in poorer countries. The average Australian devours seven times more resources than his Kenyan counterpart.
Cribb’s solutions for our wanton wastefulness is patently obvious. We need to abort our consumer culture and commence recycling everything especially water, food, plastics, timber and metals. It’s incredible that we are doing virtually none of this right now. Time is not on our side. If we don’t hastily reverse these trends irrevocable global warming will be locked in and the planet will start to fritz in front of our eyes.