Protecting the Earth: how big is your ecological footprint? (for pupils)
How many Earths would we need if everyone on the
planet had the same standard of living as you? Work through this
questionnaire to find out how much
Your ‘ecological footprint’ is the area of land needed to support your lifestyle. If we need any more planets than just the one we have, then your lifestyle is not sustainable.
How to use this interactive version: Either use the red links to answer the questions or else enter a score directly by typing in the boxes. When you reach the Total score and Grand total sections press the red links to perform the calculations.
How many hectares are needed to support your lifestyle?
Each point in your score represents one-hundredth of a hectare used. Work out how many hectares your lifestyle has an impact upon by dividing your grand total by 100. Now find out how many ‘Earths’ we would need if everyone on the planet were to use the same amount of land (ie share the same standard of living) as you:
2 hectares or less
Well done! If everyone lived like this, then human existence would be both sustainable and fair as there is enough land on the Earth to support the whole population at this level of land use. At present, about two-thirds of the global population have an ecological footprint of less than 2 hectares each.
2 – 4 hectares
Your footprint is below the European average! But, it is double the area that would be available if land were distributed evenly amongst the population of the Earth. If everyone on the planet lived like you then we would need at least one extra planet to provide enough land to support us. About 15% of the world’s population falls into this category.
4 – 6 hectares
Your footprint is close to the European average. It is about three times the land area that would be available if all the land on Earth were divided up fairly, so for everyone to live like you we’d need another two planets. About 7% of the world’s population falls into this category.
6 – 8 hectares
Your footprint is larger than the European average but still smaller than the average North American one. If everyone lived like you we’d need another three whole planets to support us because you are using up four times your share of the Earth if it were divided up equally amongst the whole population.
More than 8 hectares
Your footprint is close to that of the average North American. If everyone on the planet lived like this we would need at least four additional planets to support us because you are using up five times what your share of the Earth would be if it were divided up equally amongst the whole population. About 5% of the world’s population have a footprint this big.
What can we do?
What action could you take to make your own ecological footprint smaller? Make a list.
If you can think of any actions that aren’t included in the questionnaire, add them to your list as well.
Which of these could you start tomorrow?
Describe how these actions would reduce the impact your life has on the environment.
Which changes are not possible in the immediate future, and why?
Make a list of the actions your school could make to reduce its ecological footprint.
Make a list of the actions the government could make to reduce its ecological footprint.