What is your environmental footprint?

Another guest post from Hans Noeldner, in the spirit of a new year and a new perspective.

What is your environmental “footprint” on Earth? You can find calculators online and worksheets in study guides, but there is a far simpler, more direct way to comprehend it. Just look at what is below you during your day.

Do you see your feet walking in the grasses and forbs of a meadow, or stepping through the undergrowth of a woodland, or pacing the rows of crops in a farm field?

Do you see a floor, beneath which there is the foundation of a building that precludes natural life and water infiltration? Is the building yours alone, or do you share it with others? Does it extend upwards to accommodate its occupants, or sprawl laterally to maximize the amount of Earth that is suffocated per square foot of interior space?

Do you see a sidewalk or a bike path? Are you alone or amidst a busy throng? Will fifty paces bring you to your next destination? Will 100 revolutions of the pedals fetch you home?

Do you see the floor of a bus or train? Are the other seats mostly full or mostly empty? How many miles of track or lane must the train or bus traverse to convey you to your daily and weekly destinations?

Do you see a runway, and then the whole landscape below wincing from the deafening blast of the engines that thrust you skyward? Can you envision thousands of miles of carbon dioxide contrails in your wake?

Do you see the seat of a car? Do you sit alone or share it with others? Is it a small vehicle, or a big one that projects its mechanized menace far beyond its bumpers? How many lane-miles of asphalt and concrete do you pass over as you go? How many lifeless parking stalls do you occupy when you stop?

If you are going far, going often, and most importantly, going so fast that everything in your way seems an obstacle, stop and ask yourself, “MUST I go where I am going? Can I choose smaller ‘shoes’? Can I occupy smaller spaces? Can I tread shorter, narrower paths?

Can I walk in the footprints of others, and can others walk in mine?

Can I choose smaller ‘shoes’? Can I occupy smaller spaces? Can I tread shorter, narrower paths?

I am close to the reasonable minimum ATM. Most of my trips are walking, with auto (5 gallons/month) and streetcars splitting the rest. I enjoy the local cuisine, which is based on local ingredients plus what floated down the river and came by sailing ship. I live in an old home that has been split into 6 apartments and have minimal energy use at home (highest efficiency available window heat pump, Reflectix placed on windows during extreme weather, etc.). Every year I do a little more (as technology, appliance replacement, etc. allows). I combine trips to conferences and other business trips with my vacation time (Once there I stay extra days as tourist)

The next big step is to tear down a 1930s garage and build a "Passiv Hous" garage apartment there adapted to New Orleans conditions in it's place. Perhaps a net generator of electricity with solar PV.

Best Hopes,


Alan, nice work, you are walking the walk.

Yes Alan you are walking the walk!

Can your area stand another caricaturist? Or street musician? Or a bit of both? Your area may be a good one to bug out to.

I am helping a small community/shelter for street musicians, artists struggling to get by now. Bought some fleece clothing and extra socks in our recent cold spell. Looking for bunk beds, etc.

Generally speaking, tourism is down since Katrina and they are having a tougher time of it.

Best Hopes,


build a "Passiv Hous" garage apartment

That sounds like fun to me !

Hope you keep us advised !

PS, NOLA is still high on my new residence candidate list. DEC '08 is almost ... here.

The site is "interesting". Abuts a brick 1870s Orphanage that covers half the block (now a guest house) and is on the lot of a 1930 Craftsman bungalow (one of three lots on a burned church site). Across street from a great small park (on the dog park end). In a Historic District, so all plans must be approved. Street level is about 1.5' above sea level.

Conceptually, a two story brick "carriage house" (two arches) on the front that looks like it was the carriage house for the Orphanage. First floor cannot be legally inhabited post-K (all new construction must be 3' elevated regardless of how far above sea level) so about 7' ceiling storage & garage. Second floor would have low 8' to 7' (slope center to exterior wall) ceiling behind parapet on front half. Back half would look like 1930s add-on with higher second floor ceilings (12' likely) that would match 1930 Craftsman house on exterior (clapboard over required 3/4" marine plywood).

Insulated brick/concrete block walls for street facing brickwork. Dual steel stud walls elsewhere (likely 8" think, heavy gauge, 18" spacing vertical steel studs and then light gauge 4" thick horizontal "studs" with 4'2" spacing. Very good wind resistance with that combo.

I am thinking fiberglass insulation between 8" studs and extruded polystyrene blocks between 4" studs. Use marine plywood with plaster for interior finish.

The odd combination of historic styles would be very New Orleans :-)

Best Hopes,


Spend some time researching the type of plywood your using Alan.All types of exetrior/marine use the {same} glue...the diff. is that the marine grades have no voids in the plys.You may not need this structurally..IE: save some buck useing exterior grade instead of marine.If you need more info I am a building inspector,and could give some Ideas

The persistent high humidity and rainfall of New Orleans make me suspect of conventional CDX plywood for long term (century +) durability for exterior applications (Hardiboard or cedar clapboard over 3/4" plywood).

Despite the higher cost, marine plywood uses few more resources than conventional plywood.

You may be right for interior uses.

Best Hopes for durable, energy efficient construction,


Send me your link again.

Best Hopes for New Orleans,


"I am close to the reasonable minimum ATM"

Reasonable is an interesting concept. I live in an intentional community: Acorn Community. In a custom built house I share with 14 other like minded folks. We grow most of our own produce. And between us commute exactly 0 miles to work. We share two cars and heat our home with wood. In some sense I think of this as a Peak Oil survival community, although I expect the government to take it from us when their food runs short. I dont know what my footprint is, I imagine I am putting in a reasonable effort to keep it to a minimum and I expect that in the future we will all have to live with less than I do now. And I welcome that future.

Thank-you. I think I'll print that out to keep. Plain speaking. Straight to the heart of the matter. :)

Once again, may I advocate simply _not_having_children_ as a simple win-win scheme to reduce personal environmental footprint and free up ones own resources.
At this point in history, with the greatest wealth (both physical and cultural) the world has known (and likely ever will know), and the greatest scope for personally experiencing and enjoying it, why people are still choosing instead to dedicate their time, energy and money to a likely doomed future generation is truly beyond me, and fills my soul with despair. I'd say they're missing out on much of the global party going on right now, which is a shame really.
We've got a hell of a long cultural winter ahead, and I'm more and more siding with the grasshopper than the ant in my approach to handling it; at least the grasshopper lived it up and had a good time while he could.

Strobius I decided not to have kids unless I could make enough $$ to avoid the kind of shit I went through growing up. I wanted to, if I had kids, to have them be able to afford to finish HS, to go to college or vo-tech training, to have decent food and dental care and glasses if they needed them, to have enough clothes.

Thus: No kids here.

If anything it's WORSE now.

Like FLEAM, I decided not to have children unless I was in a position to give them more opportunities than I had myself growing up.

But I am not sure this really qualifies as some sort of environmental virtue. I live in one of the few countries in the world that has abundant natural resources (energy, food, national parks) and a relatively small population. Why should I cut back on my "footprint" so that the world can feed extra mouths in India and China at a subsistence level?

Where does "making more room" end? 7 billion, 10 billion? Are we trying to cram as many people as possible onto the planet with the lowest quality of life?

If I lead a more frugal lifestyle, doesn't that little reduction in demand simply make the continued population growth in the third world more sustainable (in the short term)?

Imagine a world in which there are two counties, call them South and North, with equal area, resources and a population of 50 million each.

South decides to maintain a stable population so everyone can enjoy plenty of national parks and a diet with lots of fruit,eggs,milk and meat. Which is "inefficient".
North decides that the greatest good in the world is more people, so they maximise their population by mandating a vegetarian diet, chopping down the forest and intensively cultivating rice, corn and wheat. Their population grows to 200 million based on their efficient agriculture.

The politicans in North then point out that South only has 20% of the world's population, but consumes 50% of the resources. They call on the citizens of South to adopt a more frugal lifestyle, grow more grain, and allow mass emigration from North.

Should South feel guilty and give in to the demands of North, with the result that South becomes overpopulated and impoverished as well?

Making do with less, leading a simpler life, certainly sounds virtious. Emotionally, I am all for growing your own vegetables, living in a passive solar house, catching an electric bus or walking to your nearby workplace. All good and sensible things IF EVERYONE ELSE DOES IT TOO.

But in the real world, the consequences of your actions do not necessarily match the intent of your actions.

If I go vegetarian, my reduced demand for grain ( to feed cattle) allows further overpopulation in the third world. If I sell my car (done) my reduced demand for oil allows three people in India to buy one of the new $3000 cars Tata Motors have introduced.
If I buy solar panels and go off the grid, my reduced demand for coal-fired electricity will make the coal the Chinese are importing for their much dirtier power stations more affordable, leading to a net INCREASE in pollution.

China will soon be the world's biggest polluter, this year probably. The global effect of any action is pretty much the same as the effect of that action on China. If you can get China and India to reduce their populations and move to renewable power, clean transport and sustainable agriculture, then you have largely solved the worlds environmental problems.

It would be nice to think that your good example will do the trick.
But the Chinese response to "reducing your footprint" is likely to be increasing theirs.

The only way out of this prisoner's dilema is to stop worrying about the size of your footprint and start worrying about the colour. We need technology that allows us to hog resources without damaging the environment - and then we need to share it with the Chinese.

Put another way, if we stop driving, the Chinese and Indians will simply drive more. What we need is technology to allow us and the Chinese to drive as much as we want, without any environmental damage.

The whole notion of a footprint is wrong-headed. A million large footprints may be much less damaging than a billion small ones.
Halve the size of your footprint, and you may just find a dozen smaller ones increase slightly to make up the difference.

What matters is the sustainablilty of the methods employed to manage your resource footprint. Technology, in other words.

TenThousandMileMargin - you have outlined why those few who are awake in the US really hope that the goodie-makers in their little workshops at the CIA are working on something that will "take care of" all those Chinese.

Most will not come out and say it or even come out and think it, but we all know about 90% of the world population needs to go. Starting with the biggest threat is the best first step.

China is the only country limiting their population. It may still be increasing at present, but that is the nature of limiting an exponential with delay and momentum. It takes a longer time than almost anyone assumes. Every year they limit is 'money in the bank' for each person in China. If it gets harder to pay for old people because of less young - thats 'money in the bank'. If it means less tax revenue for the gov - thats 'money in the bank'.

'Money in the bank' is a multiplier for the long term financial [and ecological] economy. If you think the Chinese are doing well now, what happens when less young people become less old people in 50 years time? thats more 'money in the bank'...

Guess which country will have the most in the bank?

Limiting population is the only real conservation. Everything else is farting about. Since the human race covers the spectrum from selfish to visionary [because that is the range of males that females choose to fertilise them], the only fair and safe method of limiting population is by law.


Whilst not strictly about reducing ones carbon footprint, I should like to offrer the following comment.

My wife and I were born and brought up in the 1960s, and like an increasing percentage of the Western population of that age group, found that we could not have children, either naturally or following IVF.

I believe that environmental conditions that existed the late 20th Century, plus the intervention of man made chemicals, toxins, insecticides and fertilisers have caused a dramatic reduction in human fertility in the developed nations.

A generation ago, nobody spoke about childless couples, but I expect that there are a lot of us out there.

If this trend continues, it will naturally lead to a population decline in the West.

We may benefit from a good diet, trauma free (conflict free), comfortable lifestyle in the UK but something has certainly disrupted the natural balance of human fertility.

Can I walk in the footprints of others, and can others walk in mine?

Do you see your feet walking on and on, to get water for 5 children, or to walk with a child on the back, sometimes 100s of kms, in the hope of medecine? Did you walk and walk, along ridges, along brush, by bad places, hoping not to be attacked, just to get there, to beg or buy food, or sell your body, maybe, in return for something? Did you walk and walk - under the hot and punishing sun - the surface is not the only thing - did you walk and walk and walk and suck an old sweet, or half a sweet, and drink a tiny bit of water, and sing a song, and jog the child on your back, grip the child at your side, and walk some more, and greet people on the way with fear in your heart?

You -which means *we* here - cannot walk in these footprints. Sadly. We cannot even really imagine what it is like, my effort here was sentimental and fanciful.

To keep the producers cooperating (eg Nigeria) all these people will have be marginalized, decimated, genocided, or killed outright in one fell swoop.

So that Westerners need not walk.

My footprint is low for a US resident, but it's still above the world average. I live in an about 500 sq. ft. apartment. Not only is it a little excessive for a family of two, but it's an old and quite drafty place. Heating and water are paid by the landlord, so there's no incentive to conserve and the landlord installs only the least efficient stuff he can find.

The fridge we've used for over 20 years broke a year or two back and it the landlord replaced it with what appears to be another 20+ year old unit. It appears to use as much electricity as everything else combined. The apartment is very drafty (mostly due to poor-fitting windows).

Even without a car and having sworn off air travel and meat my footprint is still huge with housing being the elephant in the living room.

When I moved in, I asked if I could supply my own refrigerator. I have one that uses about 370 kWh/year. Old ones can use 2,000 kWh/year.

Of course old one went into storage for the next failure and will be in service until broken, but the new production was biased (by 1 unit) towards the more efficient type frigs.

The removable Reflectix in the windows and gaskets behind switches & outlets are other renter conservation steps.

Best Hopes,


Out here everyone drives everywhere, house is heated when it's not cooled and it's over 2000 sq. ft., we eat meat every day since it's illegal not to or something, and the only reason we don't consume more is financial considerations not ethical. Ethical is equated with consuming all you can. The one area we really slack off on is in driving, since there are no jobs there are no jobs to commute to. The mile put on the vehicles are very low. And by vehicles I mean the biggest, baddest mofos we can get - the fact that there's a VW Rabbit and a 250cc motorcycle here reflective only of financial constraints.

"Heating and water are paid by the landlord, so there's no incentive to conserve"

It's comments like these that I don't understand. Just because you aren't (directly) paying for the bill, there's no incentive? Is it not true that those costs are eventually filtered down to you, as a renter? I hear similar comments at work, from otherwise very intelligent people: "you're not paying the bill, so who cares if you leave it running??" Well, I turn it off mainly because I think (actually, I know) it's irresponsible to waste energy, but even if that wasn't a concern of mine, I recognize that the costs, certainly not only in dollars, absolutely do affect me, i.e. higher energy costs for my employer will most certainly affect everyone in the company.

If we collectively conserve, we all benefit. It's part of what we should be doing: becoming less consumer and more citizen.

I've been reprimanded repeatedly for not flushing after every use, for turning off the heat in my room when I'm gone (conduction from other apartments keeps it well above freezing even in the coldest weather, so burst pipes are not an issue, nor are there any pipes in my room to burst in the first place), and for turning out the lights in the kitchen. They're not battles I'm going to win, so I've given up. Same goes for laundry.

I could fix the leaky sink faucet and do something about the window joints, but I don't really have the motivation or encouragement and with the no radiator off rule fixing the windows would just make me too hot (and opening the windows, the encouraged way of controlling temperature, would annul any benefit from caulked joints).

I'm far more efficient when others at least don't get in my way or even encourage me. Too bad that isn't the case at my primary residence.

Aren't you living in a free country? How do your neighbours even know how often you flush your crapper? Unless it stinks, it's none of their damn business.

If you're in the US and have the right to carry a firearm you should certainly have the right not to flush your crapper.

What I do in my own home is none of anyone else's business, unless it directly affects them, such as by smell, noise, freezing pipes, etc.

Better tune up your Prius, there are a lot of people like this guy out there.

Tell 'em Xenu sent you!!

www.xenu.net Operation Clambake!

What happened to my comment? Are you deleting comments for some reason?

Reposting my deleted comment (I'm not sure what the problem was the first time. If you're going to delete it again, why don't you have the courtesy to email me and tell me why. Thanks.)

I am living the good life here in Osaka, Japan. I detest cars and do not drive. I work via the Internet and do not commute. I do all my shopping on foot or bicycle. The closest grocery store is about 1 minute from my front door, and there are two more within a 2 or 3 minute walk. There are also many fruit and vegetable vendors operating on the street near my apartment. Osaka has outstanding subway/train/bus service, but it is also basically a flat plain and can be traversed quite easily by bicycle. In fact, I bicycled everywhere in Osaka for many years, and have lots of friends who still do that. Outside of Osaka, Japan has an extensive electric train network, and you can go almost anywhere in the country without a car. Most people I know do not even have a car, and travel exclusively by train, bus, bicycle and foot. Accordingly, there's not much concern with the price of gasoline.

I live in a small apartment, which (like most homes and apartments here) does not have central heating. I stay warm by dressing warm in the house, working in a small room, and using space heating as necessary. I've previously described the Japanese approach to home heating in YOUR BUDDY THE SPACE HEATER. I do use AC in the hot summer months, but much of that could be taken off grid using solar PV. (In fact, I see migration to warm cities as an important trend in the post-peak period. It is easier to cool than heat with renewable energy due to the nice match between AC demand and solar PV output. It's also good to pack people into cities like sardines because that is the optimal configuration for transport and distribution.)

I use fossil fuel directly only for showering/hot water (which ideally could be handled with passive solar) and cooking. For this purpose I use LNG which is imported from abroad because Japan has no indigenous sources of NG. Otherwise, I am operating only on electricity, and 40% of the power delivered by my power company comes from nuclear.

All in all, I am already living a post peak-oil lifestyle, and it's fantastic. I much prefer it to the state of car-slavery I was forced to endure while I lived in the U.S. The idea that you need a car to live a first-world lifestyle, or that a massive drop in oil/energy consumption will lower your standard of living, is a load of baloney. I am a living, breathing counterexample.

The idea that you need a car to live a first-world lifestyle, or that a massive drop in oil/energy consumption will lower your standard of living, is a load of baloney

In a society that is organized that way

It's going to be a hell of a thing to catch the shinkansen in Edmonton or Dallas.

Understand very well about living in Japan, and promote the Japanese style of rail (private and integrated with consumer retail, not just public transportation, and even private service over public ROW) here as often as I can.

However, I disagree with your statement about "massive drop in oil/energy consumption will lower your standard of living, is a load of baloney." While many Japanese lead comfortable lives by Asian standards, they do not have the luxury of space that Americans (and Canadians) have, nor do they have the luxury of amount of free time.

The Japanese "footprint", while being different than Americans in oil use per capita, is large in other measures. Just look at the share of global fish catch that the Japanese consume.

I work via the Internet and do not commute.

Ah yes if we could just all work on the internet, the problem would be solved. I don't see all that much useful work being done on the internet even, dare I say it, here on TOD. The internet is jsut another manifestaion of where we are int the consumer technolgy cycle which is built on Fossil fuel. I read somwhere that the internet now consumes about 5% of the worlds electricity and while your laptop may be off, there are thousands (millions) of servers who are always on, just for your convenience, should you wish to logon! Many of those servers will be located in air-conditioned rooms, not to mention the losses on cabling for the whole thing. The internet is not a carbon free workplace and just becasue you don't commute anywher to work does not mean your work does not have a carbon footprint.

Yes, dammit, if we could all just work on the Internet! That's the future I was promised! Where is it? The idea was, you'd learn your trig and calculus and programming languages, and what scattering variables are, and all kinds of neat equations-brought-to-life stuff, and just spend the rest of your life, pressing buttons! And have a dog named Astro.

The Internet is a huge energy hog. No one wants to admit that, but it is. It's far more of an energy-hog than the old paper-based way of doing things was, since the use of paper has gone way UP since everyone got "computerized". Or as a friend puts it, "Paperless office, HA!".

It's also very delicate, very easy to knock down, while an Encyclopedia Brittannica in every house is not destroyed by things that regularly bring down electricity networks, comms networks, and large server farms.

It was estimated maybe a year ago that a "second life" avatar uses as much energy as a 3rd world person.

fleam said
"It was estimated maybe a year ago that a "second life" avatar uses as much energy as a 3rd world person."

That's fascinating actually. It may be that soon we will have to discuss "virtual population growth" as well as physical population growth in the reduction of carbon release and fuel consumption! :-) Unthinkable only a decade ago!

Kind of explains why Google and others are so interested in renewable fuels. We may have found a "vested interest" that is rich and powerful enough to counter the "vested interest" of the petroleum industry.


Sure, the network consumes energy, although the energy use per computation is now trending downwards. We're already being limited not by silicon, but by energy density of the chips -- the problem of piping the waste away from the CPU.

But I don't give a damn, really, because the internet is so valuable it should be maintained regardless of any energy cost. I'd much rather cut back elsewhere before we start turning off the world's most important communication network. It's so infuriating to see people moan about internet electricity use without a concurrent discussion of how important it is. How many people would even know about PO/GW and the issues we're talking about without the internet.

Massive.I travel by vehicle 60-200 miles a day.True,its a tercel with 35-37mpg but the reason is my work.I have to travel to wherever the construction I inspect is located.My dispatcher does her best to keep me in my "area"{clackamas county}but most of the time that just doesn't work.The reality of our economic situation will probably change that soon.I can see the workload slowing,as "new"work new construction is not happening.The heavy equipment yards are starting to fill up,and that means no ground is being broke.No ground broke means no concrete poured,no concrete...no steel,and Snuffy goes down to 20 hrs a week work...re-models,and odd welding jobs.

I generally don't like these "mine's smaller than yours" contests, because it quickly degrades into a morality contest, with folks making brags online that, let's be honest, cannot be proven or disproven to show they they are the most humble....I remember the great writer/monk Thomas Merton, who once told of Catholic Monks at the monastary who were sworn to be non-competitive....as he recalled, they then would get competitive about who could be least competitive! :-)

So I will make no claims...although me and Alan Drake often discuss the virtues of old Diesel Mercedes, I have actually backed up a bit on the fuel mileage side, and bought a 1993 190E gasoline Benz....I literally could find no girlfriends willing to ride in my clattery old Diesel (mating and dating is energy intensive in more ways than one!)

But I do want to mention a few interesting points: kids. I don't have them. It has nothing to do with carbon footprint, some folks just love the whole "settle down, raise a family" thing, but I wasn't one of them.

However, it is fascinating that it is acceptable here to decry having children (I have often said that the difference between doomers and the ones who think that over the long haul we will do alright is that the former consider humans a liability, while the latter consider human beings to be an asset...while the realist knows that the best of humanity can be a huge asset while the worst can be a huge liability!).

However, no one will decry having pets! I have mentioned before that some of my childless female friends must leave their homes heated and cooled 24/7 for the sake of a cat! How much carbon is released and energy consumed nationwide, I wonder, simply to make sure that cats/dogs/birds/fish etc are fed, cared for and kept at a comfy tempature...it may surprise us to know....

Of course, cars are always the first villian, while no one mentions power boating....and the size of houses mean everything apparently.....although I have seen some well insulated and well planned houses as large as a small hotel that were very energy efficient per square foot...should a rehabilitated home converted from a solid old building be allowed some extra size based on the fact that no new major construction meant far less carbon release?

How much is spent in carbon release per year in the maintaining of golf courses....soccer fields, and baseball parks? Last summer, in the heart of a drought, people were being told in Louisville KY not to mow their yards because it was a high ozone day....while dozens of mowers were running on soccer fields and baseball grounds at the same time, kicking up clouds of dust (drought, the grass wasn't growing) because they had a schedule that was set for X number of mowings per month, whether the grass was growing or not....

Last one....I love the folks who think that if they drive less, it only means the Chinese are going to drive more!! :-O

Riddle: How much will the Chinese drive? Answer: Just like the Americans, as much as they can afford to....if the price of oil drops, they will probably drive more, as will we, carbon or no carbon!

Beside fuel cost, the limit to driving is time....a person only has 24 hours per day, and must eat and sleep at least some of them....and most of us must work....thus, the time spent behind the wheel is limited by the clock if nothing else!

So what's my point? The same one as always, but your not going to like it....

The way to reduce carbon output is still good design, pure and simple. People can play at being a "carbon ascetic" all they want, but it will not mean a pizz in the sea compared to well designed products, architecture, city planning, and reduction of waste in processing of products and services.

Reducing carbon release/fuel consumption is very much like dieting. The more you have to think about, the less success you are likely to have. If it's built right into the structure of your culture and it's products, however, you will do it without noticing.

And one more thing...if you don't want human kids, get rid of that damn dog! I have never known of an adult being mauled by a killer human child....

What is the philosophy that indicates all species have a place in the world, a right to exist...except humans? Nihilistic rubbish....


Good design is the way to reduce my carbon footprint....great.

I have just recently learned that my attic's high insulation rating means crap because a) the attic itself is more scorching hot than the exterior air in summer due to bad design, including dark colored shingles b) fibreglass insulation is a bad design choice c)the glass windows are conducting heat to the outside in winter despite double panes d)our dryer causes the AC unit to work harder e) all the stairways should have had doors installed at the bottom f)open floor plans waste heating and ac energy g)despite dual zone HVAC, three open stories means the basement den is cold and the upstairs bedrooms are hot and too dry etc etc

The house is only three years old!

Seriously, WHERE are the COMMUNITY DEVELOPERS who use good design? I really don't want to squeeze my family into a so called 'green' condo above a retail store in a megalopolis where I can bake and dehydrate as the power and public water supplies dwindle. I want an off the grid well-designed neighborhood in/next to a small town. Do they even exist?

A) Ventilate your attic with one or two "whirlybirds" and some under eaves or end caps to supply the air.

C) Consider using Reflectix on the inside of the windows during extreme weather.

D) Use a solar clothes dryer

WHERE are the COMMUNITY DEVELOPERS who use good design?

Long dead, but their communities live on. I live in one (the Lower Garden District of New Orleans).


As others have said, I'm in the winning column, because I don't believe in having children. So it's almost inconsequential what my personal carbon footprint is, because the carbon emissions of my lineage integrated over infinite time will be an infinitesimally small fraction of someone who did have children. End of discussion.

As far as my own footprint goes, I'd say it's very small for Houston, but probably just average for a developed nation. I use the light rail and transit as much as possible. I've shared a single car with my girlfriend for 5 years now. I live in a duplex built in the 1920s, in an urban neighborhood, and within easy walking distance of both a supermarket and a large "general" goods store (1 block and 2 blocks, respectively.) But other than that, my life is mostly conventional. I don't make an active effort to conserve past the easy things (CFLs, LCD displays, laptops instead of desktops, turning off lights and water, etc.) The home is definitely not well insulated, but I'm not the owner (yet, I may buy it and continue to rent the rest out).

The term ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT is a euphemism, we should call it what it is -- ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.