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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On our Expanded Ecological Footprint

The excellent Bali Advertiser has an article entitled What's Your Ecological Footprint?  I appreciate what the author pointed out and would like to add two other factors to the calculation. One is the relative importance of individual footprints and those of organizations from the Girl Scouts to corporations to media to governments and military and educational institutions. Another factor which can also be small or enormous is an individual's or institution's influence on others.



As for the first point, it seems to me as it has to others that the footprints of such organizations mentioned are momentous, their influence on our future towering, dwarfing our personal behavior in effect. As for the second point, it seems to me that one's actual footprint must include the reach of one's influence. Thus, Al Gore or Laurie David have, I believe, very large personal footprints and their work has even larger ones - think of all the energy expended in making a movie, people going to it, putting on conferences etc, but when their total influence on society is added to the calculation I suggest that they both have gigantic negative footprints and consider it petty but understandable to criticize their personal footprint harshly. Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers (individually and as Koch Industries) naturally have huge footprints with any normal calculation, but when their extremely influential spending on propaganda promoting climate change denial is added in, their footprints are surely gargantuan. The footprints of politicians and decision makers at various levels in this thinking would mainly be shaped by their positions and not their personal habits. I imagine Fox News footprint as able to contain countless NPRs.

There's an American man named Emerald Starr by his Kahuna guru who has been here in Bali a long time. Here's a nine year old article on him in the Bali Advertiser. I've mentioned him before. As the article states, "He co-designed and created a permaculture retreat center on Maui." He designed and built the first resort hotel constructed with bamboo after first developing a method to prepare the bamboo so it would work. He's a presenter of Al Gore's Inconvenigent Truth material. He puts a lot of energy into what he does such as work on the revitalization of the Tirtagganga Water Palace and the co-creation of the nonpareil Uforia Chocolate at his Turtle Bay Hideaway. Building a large bamboo hotel and his other endeavors would increase his ecological footprint if we didn't include the benefits brought by helping to reduce the size of our communal footprint with excellent taste and tasty excellence.

Depak and Hira are a couple and a couple of Javanese of Pakistani Hindu ancestry who own and operate the small organic food store, Satvika Bhoga (Facebook page) in Sanur. At home they cook with biofuels and water their plants with a grey water system. At their bring-your-own-bag store they offer locally grown non GMO food, educate, and communicate. And Hira once sued Monsanta, making some waves, and benefiting us all though not winning the case. The energy they expend gives them a most compassionate and negative footprint in my view.

I helped to open a recycling center in San Francisco back in the early eighties and I could clearly see that the value of the efforts of the small percentage of do-gooders who'd drive their bottles, cans, and paper to a collection center was mainly as an educational first step toward home collection and that recycling wouldn't happen on a truly meaningful scale until it made economic sense and in order for that to happen there had to be changes in government and business and other policy. Thus some use energy, expanding their footprint, in an effort to reduce our shared footprint on a larger scale.

To me it's clear that the ecological footprint of the human race can only be shrunk below incredibly destructive and possibly extinction directed futures by massive changes in policy, practices, laws, regulations, education, information, and so forth from the largest most influential organizations - countries, corporations, etc. Thus our personal practices appear to me to be most useful as examples and not more significant than our efforts to bring others individual and collective into the movement.

May we live in a world that values pure air, water, land, and life.  - DC

Guardian article fact checking a politician's climate science denial and Climate change denial strong as ever.