For the first time, I completed the ecological footprint calculator activity. My results were both expected in some senses and surprising in others. Overall, my footprint was 5.8 global hectares, the Canadian average. This to me was not surprising. I know there are aspects of the way in which I live such as consuming meat daily, living in low density housing and traveling frequently that would lead to my footprint not being lower. A surprise did come from the fact that the average for Calgary; the city where I live, was significantly higher then the national average at 8.6. I would have guessed it to be higher then average due to the fact that the city itself is the center of the oil and gas industry in Canada, making it relatively more wealthy and in my opinion, less inclined to be environmentally conscious. However, I did not expect it to be that much higher.
The importance of infrastructure was another thing that surprised me. For my the largest portion of my score came from the services category at just under 40%. This means that this section alone puts almost at the global average footprint. It would seem to me that this is an area that often people do not think of because they have less ability to affect change. As was mentioned in class a shifting of blame occurs when producers say consumers don’t want more environmentally friendly products due to the higher cost and consumers blame producers for not supplying eco-options. In the end I would say the ambiguity and shifting of the blame leads to the “service” portion being written off in the minds of individuals. The second biggest category for me was shelter. I live with my family in what I would call an average Canadian family home. Energy efficient housing and even high density housing is extremely uncommon in my experience. This is yet again something I do not generally consider when thinking of my impact as the current system is just understood to be “the way it is.”
This inability or unwillingness to realize and internalize the actual inefficiency inherent in societal infrastructure is the biggest way in which the footprint calculator helped me to better understand my impact.