Surviving Peak Oil
Let us compare two average national footprints:
U.S. India Food 6.9 0.7 Mobility 5.2 0.2 Shelter 4.2 0.7 Goods & Services 7.7 0.5 Total Acres 23.0 2.1
The meat heavy diet that most Americans eat contributes to a large footprint. Food animals, especially cattle, are inefficient at converting feed nutrition to meat nutrition. Eating vegetable protein directly reduces food costs in both the household and Earth budgets. Switching to sustainably raised and efficient meats, such as organic poultry and fish, also helps. (Goodland) While hybrid cars and the resource savings they offer are beyond the reach of most, less wealthy green consumers can reduce their transportation footprints as much by going car-lite—that is, replacing most current car trips with walking, biking and busing, saving the car for only a few heavy errands. A green-design residence is another effective option open only to the affluent. The rest of us can reduce our footprints as much by living in an apartment rather than a house, living with less space per person, and conserving energy.
Because of the inefficiencies built into the U.S. transportation infrastructure, which move our commodities around, even vegetarian cyclists who share a small apartment will find it is difficult to reduce their ecological footprints to 3.0 acres. Changing individual consumption patterns cannot bring Americans down to the sustainable 2.5 acre goal, we will need to reach by 2050. For that, our changes must be both individual and societal. For example many manufactured goods could be radically redesigned for recycleability and durability, rather than for planned obsolescence. To determine what changes are necessary at a household level, we must examine the basic necessities, shelter, water, and food, and identify inexpensive, low-tech, simple solutions that individuals can apply for themselves with easily available materials. Technologies exist that can make a sustainable lifestyle comfortable, if they are widely distributed.