We live on Planet Earth, which has an ecosystem of plant life, animals and microbes. This ecosystem has no voice in our society, yet its survival is vital to our own. It provides us with food, fibres, timber, fossil fuels, biomass and all nature’s beauty. In the same way that a farmer’s primary concern is the health of his fields, since they provide crops for him, his children and his grandchildren, our primary concern must be the health of this ecosystem. Damage our ecosystem and we imperil our own future and that of all life on earth. The health of a country’s economy, jobs, wealth, possessions, must come second, with economists using their skills to establish societies that are both popular and sustainable. This website has been set up to find ways to change the way we live so that we no longer use more resources than the ecosystem can provide.
Safeguarding our ecosystem
Had the ecosystem a voice, it would ask that humans:-
- minimise their use of carbon dioxide producing fossil fuels
- minimise the rate that they cut down trees
- preserve habitats essential to threatened animal species
- reduce their population size and consumption so that they, animals and plants come back into balance.
Persuading the world’s population to reduce their resource use is a major task. However, we ourselves can take action, in our own homes and lives. Reducing our own energy usage (Carbon footprint) and resource use (Environmental footprint) is relatively easy, since we own or rent our property and are responsible for our own lifestyle. Individual action gives satisfaction that “we are doing our bit”, but more importantly, shows others that life can still be enjoyable while consuming less.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 commits Scotland to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, from the base year of 1990, by 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. UK figures for GHG emissions show a reduction between 1990-2010 of 23%. This does not include “embedded” emissions, the emissions we cause by buying goods and services from abroad. When these are included, GHG emissions show a rise of about 12% from 1990-2010. The 42% and 80% reduction targets therefore require a radical reduction in the amount of energy we use and a huge increase in renewable energy we must generate.
Three to one planet living
Scots at present use three planets’ worth of resources (WWF). Individuals, by their own efforts, should be able to reduce this to two. (Estimate your own use in this 5 minute WWF calculator). To get to one planet’s worth, which we require to become sustainable, we need governments to act, through either national or international action. Such action will include a shift from carbon sourced energy to renewable energy, policies requiring reduced/compostable packaging, busways clear of cars, biogas production from wastes, etc. The pages on this website that are listed under the heading of 2 Planet Living are actions that you can do yourself; those under the heading of 1 Planet Living need government to be involved, but you can be influential in getting governments to act.
This website sets out to act as a resource or library of practical information for living more sustainably. To avoid commercial bias in our posted material, information will be from non-business sources. This is not to devalue the potential contribution of business, as it obviously has a huge role to play in providing the materials and technologies that will deliver a sustainable future. It is just to prevent commercial self interest creeping into “sustainable” recommendations, skewing advice to favour certain products and causing readers to doubt the information.
Web Administrator and main author
I am a chartered agricultural engineer who became converted to appropriate technology when working in rural development for VSO in East Nigeria in 1966-7. In my subsequent career working for Scottish Agricultural College, Aberdeen, I carried out research, consultancy and teaching on anaerobic digestion, farm mechanisation, crop storage, farm buildings, food preservation and packaging, renewable energy, plastic recycling and waste food composting. Following retirement, I continued teaching to Edinburgh University and SAC-Edinburgh MSc students on waste reduction and recycling, while also refurbishing my granite house to make it more energy efficient. This website therefore contains the various strands of my expertise, with a view to giving the public ideas as to how to live more sustainably. I live in the centre of Aberdeen.