January 11, 2012 § 3 Comments
“How much am I worth? Is my life equal to one square foot of mature forest land? Two feet? An acre?”
[Malcolm Wells, Gentle Architecture, 1981]
How much land do you deserve? If the Earth were to weigh your benefits towards against what you detract from it, how much land would it hand you to pillage at your will? Yes, you, human.
“The minimum amount of agricultural land necessary for sustainable food security, with a diversified diet similar to those of North America and Western Europe (hence including meat), is 0.5 of a hectare per person.”
0.5 ha = 1.2 acres = 53,819.6 sqft
“The minimum amount of arable land required to sustainably support one person is 0.07 of a hectare. This assumes a largely vegetarian diet, no farmland degradation or water shortages, virtually no post- harvest waste, and farmers who know precisely when and how to plant, fertilize, irrigate, etc.”
0.07 ha = 7,534.7 sqft
You, human, are being given a source of clean water to drink, a hundred square feet to create a shelter from the elements, and just over seven and a half thousand square feet of land to garden. A plot of land eighty-seven feet by eighty-seven feet. Till your front lawn into a garden. That’s what you get. We won’t even try to answer whether you deserve it.
If you want to fish from your water source you have to give up a bit of your land. If you want to raise chickens or a goat on that land, think carefully about whether they’re worth how much of your garden they’re going to be consuming. Don’t even think about getting a cow.
No, you can’t go hunt off your plot. Everything you need to live must occur within those square feet. If you want a bigger house, you’re building over your garden and using some of your land to grow trees for wood (a gift – the trees will appear instantly for you, but they’re also instantly depleting all the nutrients from the land that they required to grow). Oh, you’re naked and cold? Maybe you’ll have to raise a goat after all, just for its skin, or calculate how many cotton plants you need to grow. Hang on, you want to cook your food?? Well, you have to grow those trees after all just for fuel. How many trees would you go through in a year? How much food would you be losing?
Don’t even think of wanting a book. Don’t even think of wanting a kettle, or nails and a hammer. Don’t even think of wanting a warm wool blanket. Don’t even think of wanting electricity. Or glass windows. Or shoes. You can’t afford these things.
0.07 hectares. Why should you get any more?