Thursday, December 28, 2006

Spending Less to Save the World

A curve fit of world ecological footprint to U.S. per capita expenses indicates that the 17 percent decline in the footprint needed to avoid population collapse would require an total negative expense of about $650 (in current dollars) from 2015 to 2018, before climbing to its sustainable value of about $1,800 per year (about five percent of the starting value) by 2065. While this is likely an artifact of the curve fitting process, it raises the question: Would you not only live on nothing, but give money, to save the world?

Since the goal is to, as soon as possible, spend no more than five percent of the present amount on products and services that are wasteful, a more reasonable trajectory would be a constant 28 percent per year decline in non-sustainable expenses, achieving sustainability by 2016 (the projected minimum). Compare this to the 17 percent that I proposed earlier, when I assumed we would have to reach sustainability in ten years, and used a cruder way to assess the dollar value of the change in footprint.

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