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THE HUMAN FOOTPRINT

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Have you ever stopped to think about how your actions add up over a lifetime? Just think of all the things we produce and consume. Imagine the food we eat, all the soda we drink, all the water we flush down the drain, all the clothing we buy, the amount of fuel we use and all the things we depend upon We are going to lay out some of the everyday goods we consume in our lives, to show the impact each of us makes upon the world. It’s the journey of our lifetime and as we take each step, we will see how we leave our impression, our step upon the world. This is our “Human Footprint”. This is our world. A finite place of infinite possibilities. It’s been around for over 3.8 billion years. If we think of the Earth as being one day old, then we’ve been around for just a few seconds. Yet with over 6 billion of us on the planet, our presence is earthshaking. As individuals, we may think we have little impact on the world around us. We may feel that our contribution to the world goes unnoticed. We’d be wrong! each of us makes a contribution; we each make an impact and we each leave a footprint; and by examining everything we consume across the country, we have been able to calculate the effect we each make on the world around us: the miles we each drive, the waste we throw away, the gasoline we use, the quantities, the numbers that reveal the impact that each of us makes per person, per lifetime. As individuals we’re all different but statistically we’re remarkably the same. So let’s imagine the average American boy and girl. They could be anyone and their bid like everyone. As they grow up we will follow them on a 77-year 9-month journey from babyhood to old age. We will see what we each eat, what we drink, how we travel. and what we buy and consume during each phase of our lives because at no time in our history have we consumed as much as we are now. Recently the Wildlife Conservation Society mapped our impact on the planet. They called this the “Human Footprint” and found that just 17% of the world’s land surface is unaffected by us. These untouched areas they called the “Last of the Wild”, this means that we directly influence 83% of the world’s land. One of the most developed countries on Earth is the United States home to 304 million people. And it is here in the US that our boy and our girl grow up. But even as toddlers we’re already using our resources we spend our first two and a half years in diapers, brilliantly designed for comfort, convenience and hygiene. Diapers are made to use once and throw away so busy parents lose track of just how many of them our children go through and we never stop to think about what is gone into making the average diaper. So we’re setting out all the parts and materials that make up a diaper, we need a lot of space to do this because just one little diaper contains a surprising array of ingredients and we're laying out all the materials needed to make not just one but all the diapers a single child would get through. So, how many diapers require changing over our first two and a half years of life? Add up so fast and it looks like this: this is a little more than 4 diapers a day, 1518 diapers a year for a total of 3796 diapers over our diaper wearing time span. It’s convenient for parents but all these diapers make a big impact on the wider world. Because there’s more inside a disposable diaper than meets the eye. It takes half a pint of crude oil per diaper to make the plastic water proof lining that encases them this is the amount of crude oil you’ll need for just one child. And over 30 months that single diaper baby would use 715 pounds of plastic: that’s as heavy as three heavy weight wrestlers. And that’s not all the soft fluffy padding of the inside requires the pulp of four and a half trees. All to keep one American toddler tidy. Multiply that by the number of babies in the US and the grand total is 18 billion disposable diapers thrown away every year. That’s enough to stretch around the world 90 times and all those diapers would long outlive the babies who soiled them. It could take 500 years or more for them to biodegrade. It could be even longer because we don’t really know how long it takes plastic to break down and a 500 years supply of diapers we cover the entire state of Texas. So how can we avoid doing this? We may think that reusable diapers are the answer they’re made of natural fibers and avoid plastic but have you ever considered what it takes to launder them? Washing all those diapers at home would use 22455 gallons of water By your first birthday we would already have been responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than someone in Tanzania would generate in a lifetime. But this is just the start of the impact we make; As crucial as the air we breath our toddlers require food and from the very beginning this means milk. a lifelong taste of milk has begun. we drink it we put it on cereals we find it in cakes in coffee in ice cream milk is in so many food we can consume it without realizing it While we’re busy consuming milk, a whole industry is busy preparing, preserving packaging and transporting it to us. and it all starts here. Cows live on 65000 dairy farms stretched across the United States. One cow produces six and a half gallons of milk every day. each cow eats 100 pounds of grass and other food stuff each day and drinks 25 to 50 gallons of water. To serve all of America it takes 9.2 million cows; more than the human population of New Jersey and all those cows need a lot of space. To get a sense of it, dairy cows occupy a chunk of America covering more than 20 million acres, the size of the state of Louisiana. We need them because each of us drinks about 3 pints of milk a week. In a month we’re done 14 pints which in a year adds up to 168 pints. Over the course of a lifetime all those cups of coffee, bowls of cereal and ice cream add up And this is what it looks like. We’ve laid out every single pint of milk that we would each consume in our life time.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes
Country: Spain
Language: English
Producer: The National Geographic
Director: The National Geographic
Views: 386
Posted by: erix702000 on May 19, 2013

The following video is the first part of a documentary by the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, in which you will be able to see and understand why we, as individuals are part of what they call "The Human Footprint" which involves the use and abuse of resources from our planet.

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