- Page 3
As you take in the big picture of environmental justice, remember to focus in closely, too—by making your commitment to environmental justice a daily habit. You might be thinking: There are 6.7 billion people in the world! What I do as an individual won’t make any difference at all! But you have more clout than you think. When you establish goals and then achieve them, you set an example for others. And those others, in turn, can inspire still more people. If each week you convince just three people to help you make a difference and they each do the same, after four weeks you will have 121 people on board. In a month, you’ll have 2,391,484 people—more than the population of Maine and Montana! That’s some impressive math! Your inspiring example can harness the power of many! The Do the Math items throughout this chapter offer ways to set change in motion right away and inspire others to join you. Pick two to stick with, on your own or as a team. Do the Math is Step 2 toward the Sage Award. But your commitment to Do the Math will be ongoing. After all, math is essential to any equation!
- Page 4
Our footprints raise tough questions about environmental justice on a global scale. The average footprint of a person in the United States is much, much bigger than the average footprint of a person living in Africa or Asia. When it comes to energy, for example, the United States, which accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s population, burns more than 25 percent of all the coal, oil, and natural gas extracted from the planet each year. The comparison is also lopsided when it comes to food, water, garbage, and nearly everything else. The United States and Europe spend far more on cosmetics than it would cost to provide clean water and sanitation for the rest of the world. Same for ice cream, perfume, or pet food. How can that be fair? When it comes to environmental footprints and justice, there are three basic, but very important facts we must face:
- Page 5
hectares Do the Calculate the carbon impact of burning 1 gallon of gasoline. To keep it simple, start at the gas station. A gallon of gasoline weighs a bit more than 6 pounds, and 85 percent of it is carbon and the rest is hydrogen. So there are 5.25 pounds of carbon in a gallon of gasoline. When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to form water (H 2 O), and the carbon also combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). Through the miracle of chemistry, burning 6 pounds of gasoline produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide and 15 pounds of water vapor! hectares