Ah, Earth Day. That time of year when we can all signal to others how virtuous we are with our recycling and sustainable life choices. It’s always the perfect opportunity for an ego boost knowing that you’re doing your part to save the Earth from the greedy and selfish resource squanderers. On this day I wondered, am I helping the environment? Obviously the internet has an answer for everything. From on high the interweb gods have blessed us with a quiz.
I could dedicate many posts to the arrogance, shortcomings, and downright hypocrisy of many vaunted environmentalists, but today I will have to suffice with focus on just one: the Earth Day Network.
This site has made a handy quiz to gauge your “ecological footprint” on the Earth. There are options to take the quiz by inputting either basic info or (marginally more) detailed information. They’re typical things you could expect from the standpoint of ecological impact: food consumed, housing, travel, recycling, etc. At the end of the quiz, it gives you a breakdown of your resource usage. The highlight of the quiz is their final metric that tells you how many Earths we would need to support your resource usage if everyone lived like you.
I’d like to think I’m not the most resource-intensive human being on Earth, but who can be sure? Thank heavens we have the Earth Day Network to find out!
I answered the detailed version of the quiz to the best of my ability, and my results were shocking, to say the least. According to the quiz, it would take over 5 Planet Earths to sustain my lifestyle if everyone lived like me. Who knew I was such an environmental heretic?
The fear mongering this quiz can generate is admittedly brilliant. Nothing is scarier than learning that you can’t live unless we have more than one Earth and then arriving at the terrifying cliché that wait a minute, we only have one Earth to live in!
At first glance, these results did seem plausible. It clearly states that this is what would happen if every person on the planet lived like me; as a U.S. city-dweller, my consumption is appreciably higher than the billions of people living with relatively few resources in the third world. But then I wondered how much I would help the environment if I was a model global citizen.
I took the test again, only this time my answers were the best responses you could possibly give. I was vegan, eating only locally sourced, fresh food, used no transportation other than a bike, lived in a “green-design home” drawing all power from renewable resources, purchased almost no new products each year, and recycled everything I could. Surely my lifestyle would save us all from the destruction of our planet, right? Here were my results:
Despite my virtuous lifestyle, we would still need almost three Earths to sustain it. Remember, that’s with everyone in the world following my very green example. Looks like we’re all traitors to the planet, hippies included.
This kind of doomsday environmentalism is reminiscent of Michael Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” graph that has been thoroughly discredited. No matter what values you put into his model, the variables were weighted such that the result was always a catastrophic rise in global temperatures with armageddon soon to follow.
I thought maybe the FAQ of the quiz would help shed some light on my peculiar results. Funnily enough, one of the questions asked was “Are we all doomed?” Earth Day Network explained that this quiz “highlights the reality of ecological scarcity, which can be disconcerting and frightening information.” In other words, this quiz is designed to terrify you, and you should now be doing something about it. Message received, loud and clear.
The reality is that groups like the Earth Day Network peddle fear in apocalyptic proportions to advance their agenda. You should change your behavior, but that will never be enough. It’s plain to see that for environmentalists like these, Earth is in danger, and humankind is the problem. They really do have misanthropy down to a science.