Tim Longhurst's Blog

Miranda Devine puts well-heeled boot into eco-footprints

August 3rd, 2005 · No Comments

ecological.jpgA while ago I worked out my ecological footprint and discovered that according to a very rough calculation I was using three times my fair share of natural resources.

On Monday the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story on how the footprint of Mosman residents is even larger than mine.

Three days later, SMH right-wing columnist Miranda Devine hit back. What was her beef with the ecological footprint? Did she think the maths was bad? Did it make her nervous to realise that maybe the way she lived her life was unsustainable?

A capitalist once shared with me something he considered wisdom: “The communist sees a rich man’s house and exclaims, ‘No man should have this much’. The capitalist sees a rich man’s house and exclaims, ‘Every man should have this much’.”

Perhaps a biologist would then retort, ‘The Earth’s biosphere is incapable of supporting a world where every man has that much.’

But Miranda Devine probably doesn’t listen to biologists. The only scientists she likes probably work for Monsanto.

Miranda Devine’s unsophisticated response offers no alternative model or scientific critique of the ecological footprint model. She seems to be annoyed that people would bother to calculate an individual’s ‘fair share’ of the Earth. She is, after all, incredibly hostile to concepts like ‘justice’ and ‘equity’.

Obviously the revelation that the Earth’s biosphere is finite has caused significant cognitive dissonance for Devine. Here’s how she deals with it:

MOSMAN ratepayers must be thrilled to find themselves portrayed as “big foot” eco-gluttons by their council. My vegetarian colleague John Huxley bravely revealed this week that his fellow Mosmanites consume more than six times their share of the Earth’s resources. He knows this because Mosman Council has expended lots of energy calculating its residents’ average “ecological footprint” – the amount of land and water needed to provide resources for one person and dispose of the waste. Lifestyle aspects, from food to holidays, were factored in.

While the “sustainable global average” ecological footprint is 2.3 hectares a person, the “yeti yachties from the north”, as Mosmanites are now dubbed, take up a huge 14.7 hectares, almost twice the Australian average.

Naughty, naughty Mosman.

But in truth, the ecological footprint smells like just another tool of social control that leftist green ideologues love. Fly overseas for a holiday or eat meat, and your ecological footprint balloons. Your only hope is to move into a cave, graze vegetable matter off the ground, and die young and childless.

This is the best rebuttle Devine could offer. It’s name calling dressed up to look like a column in a respectable broadsheet. Go ahead and read the whole thing, if you like.

The reality is there are several indications that this planet is heading for the first mass-extinction caused by a single species: us. That’s not my opinion, that’s the view held by Lord May, President of the Royal Society, one of the world’s most respected scientific institutions.

Does Miranda Devine think that the world could sustain 6.3 billion people if we all lived like the people in Mosman?

Perhaps her view is, “So what? We’ll just start a few wars and thin out the ranks!” Maybe that’s why she was such a pro-war zealot when it came to Iraq?

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Category: Our living planet

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