How much land can we each use for food, shelter, clothing, artifacts, transportation, waste processing, and fuel?
And how do we define footprint? For instance, California hunter gatherers had a density of 2 people per square mile, and they "used" most of that area. Were their footprints half a square mile each? Or do diffuse footprints count for less?
How do we equalize the discussion? For instance, somebody who burns fossil fuels needs some many acres of trees to absorb this carbon. Somebody who heats with wood needs so many acres of trees to burn. Somebody who heats with electricity from a solar panel needs so many acres of lithium and copper mine. Are all these acres equal? I would say not since the woodlot if harvested carefully will have a lot of habitat, but the lithium mine will not.
So many similar questions.
And much research seems to indicate we need half of earth in wildlife refuges. Does this mean half of all arable land, or can we leave nature the unarable half? Where does Antarctica and the Sahara count into this? I would assume they would mean half the arable land.
We are at 7.4 billion people, let's just say 8 billion. There are 36806399930 acres of land area on earth. We currently use half of this, more or less, for food production as pasture/ range-land and cropland. We will leave the other half out of the question, since is seems to be needed for biosphere maintenance. So, 2.3 acres per person.
Can we fit everything into that 2.3 acres? I assume the whole area is at least marginally habitable, since they are all being used to grow crops. If we can met all our needs on them, we can stop cutting trees, mining stuff, and hunting on the other 50%, leaving it under the control of the UN as a permanent wild land or park.
It now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.
We maintain this overshoot by liquidating the Earth’s resources. Overshoot is a vastly underestimated threat to human well-being and the health of the planet, and one that is not adequately addressed."
Another person might be doing 100,000 miles of flights per year and growing nothing but teaching thousands of people how to use their land 3 times more efficiently. How big is that person's footprint?
Steve Farmer wrote:and depends how the land is used. A person might be using no till on 2 acres and be building soil over their lifetime. Another person might be using 2 acres and growing a monocrop leaving the soil poorer at their death than it was at their birth. Do they have the same "footprint"
If everyone lives like the average American, we'd need 5 Earths. We can't live like Americans on 2 acres.
I was figuring this discussion is about living as permaculturists, how much land can each human have?
What we need to figure out is, what can fit on these 2.3 acres? What do we have to leave out? And it doesn't have to be wild land, since we already set aside a lot of that.
Also, permaculture landscapes should provide some of this, one would hope.
And yes, the amount would very depending on climate. But we have to make it fit, no matter where they are.
I'm going to check my math to make sure I got the figures right.
Gilbert Fritz wrote: That has to include transportation, public spaces such as churches, sport fields, town halls, museums, and shops
Used to be, except sports fields and town halls, those things were in peoples' houses. We might choose to have some of them, such as some museums, be more public, but church meetings and shops can certainly be in people's homes as they once were in many places in the past (and now).
Have you looked at Chapter 14 in the Designers Manual? The whole chapter is about how to design permaculture societies, villages. And there's a lot of village and home design throughout the book, for different climates.
Appropriate design for communities is a large subject, probably too large for a thread. Without any knowledge about appropriate design, I don't know how we could figure out what appropriate amounts of land might be for specific human uses such as sports fields!
Tyler, I did read the DM, but that was a few years ago, and I didn't find it a user friendly book. I will have to get it out and read it again.
Shops below houses is the way to go.
I’m going to look at this from a temperate moderately wet perspective. This will be lower then needed in the far North or the Desert, higher then needed in the tropics. So it should balance out.
First and most obvious, the built environment. Let’s be generous and give everyone an acre for a house, sheds, outbuildings, their share of the roads and parking lots (1/10 of an acre per person in the USA, though much of that could be depaved) and public buildings.
Then food raising. An acre per person should be plenty. An intensive garden of vegetables and potatoes, and a food forest/ orchard which is more extensive but resilient. It also provides beauty and habitat.
Fuel; there are widely different opinions online as to how many cords of wood can be sustainably take from an acre of forest. A rocket stove can heat a building with 2 cords of wood a year. More then one person should inhabit a building. So let’s talk a low estimate of half a cord a year per acre, and give each person an acre of woodland. This also provides habitat and protects watersheds.
Mining should be unnecessary with all metals recycled.
Recreation should be a snap with half the earth in protected status, and a garden full of plants.
Other; clothing, crafts, furniture, charcoal for cottage industries, feedstocks, paints, lime etc. Most of this could come from managed woodland; so we will give each person another 2 acres.
Now we are left with an acre over per person. This could cover shortfalls, be used for even more habitat, or raise animals if we don’t go vegan. Even if we did, we would probably raise some animals for transport; so the remaining acres 8 million acres, pooled together, could partially be used to raise some livestock. (Though some livestock could probably forage in the forests.)
So there we have a world which is half protected wilderness, and the remaining half largely trees, inhabited by 8 billion happy people; it wouldn’t be the American dream, but who wants that anyhow!
Or risk extinction.
There is carbon sequestered in rock but that's not relevant to the kind of timeframes we're talking about.
Out 50% wild does not have to be our main carbon sink; maybe our farmland can be our main carbon sink. As I understand it, our 50% wild is for protecting top carnivores and other such species. I would also might quibble with what lands they left out as not productive; many if not all deserts are human artifacts and can be re greened. Of course, any ice caps, all of Antarctica, and some deserts have to be taken off.
Since the inhabitants of this world are ecologically savvy, half of each continent has been left entirely wild, with no human impacts, other then an occasional hike. Top carnivores and fragile butterflies are common. In addition, all the inhabited land is full of wild species of the more robust types.
Continent 1 has a population of 66,666,666, each living on the resources of 15 acres a piece.
Continent 2 has a population of 250,000,000, living on the resources of 4 acres a piece.
Both populations live in sustainable houses and have zero carbon emissions. Neither pollutes the local rivers, the ocean, or anything else.
C1 people have some meat in their diet; the inhabitants of C2 are dietary vegans.
The people of C2 have no desire for eating meat; as a matter of fact, their ocean is full of vast whirlpools, which makes contact of any sort difficult.
All the people are as happy as people ever are.
Is there anything unethical or immoral about this scenario? I might be missing something.
Please remember, this scenario has very little relevance to anything in the current world; it is a thought experiment.
In my own opinion if the animals are raised in a happy environment and meet a quick and clean end, it's totally ethical. But that's not an opinion shared by everyone.