As we live our lives, we rarely think about the impacts we have on the earth and the ecosystems around us. However, if you have wondered, there is a way to calculate it. Footprint Calculator calculates how much land area it would take to support your lifestyle based on your answers to a few questions. It would take 3.9 planet earths to support the resources needed if everyone lived like me. As conscientious as I try to live, it is apparent that my lifestyle is beyond what I need to survive and I can make some changes.
The United States is one of the biggest contributors of CO2 emissions, with China being number one. But an article just released in EurekAlert, and posted on Environmental News Network, claims “the United States is the overall worst performer when it comes to per capita greenhouse gas emissions”. Instead of looking at the producer, researchers instead looked at the consumer and found that as consumers, between 60-80% of the impacts on our earth is from household consumption. So, if we look at it that way, who is to blame? We consume and want much more than we need and it is taking a toll on our earth.
To keep it local, you can also use the Chesapeake Bay Foundations nitrogen calculator to calculate your annual nitrogen footprint based on the amount of energy you use, your septic/sewage system, residential lot, and automobile use. We can all make small adjustments to our lifestyle that can have a big impact on our earth. If you have a septic system, make sure it has the most up-to-date design that limits your nitrogen pollution, use less electricity, plant rain gardens, reduce the impervious surface on your lawn, install a rain barrel, limit your driving or use mass transportation when you can, buy only what you need, and purchase local foods with limited packaging.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes six states (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia), approximately 64,000 square miles, where more than 17 million people live, each having some type of impact on the Bay. According to the Chesapeake Bay Story (found on http://chesapeakebaystory.umces.edu), in the 1950s, the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed became home to approximately 7 million people and about a decade later, the quality of the Bay started showing signs of degradation. The Bay’s health declines with increasing population; therefore, it is up to those living within the watershed to work together to restore and maintain its health. We can all work together to live more practically, not consume more than we need, and take measures to reduce our impact. Learn, be aware, and act on it, so we can have a healthier planet tomorrow.