Transcript: William Rees | Apr 29, 2007

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of "Big Ideas" featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated orange slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read "Big Ideas."
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing a beige coat over a green shirt.

Andrew holds a blood orange in his hand and says HELLO I'M ANDREW MOODIE.
THIS IS
BIG IDEAS.
AND THIS IS A BLOOD
ORANGE.
I LOVE THESE.
THEY'RE ORIGINALLY FROM
SICILY.
THEY'RE SWEET AND THEY'RE
JUICY AND RED.
AND ACCORDING TO OUR NEXT
SPEAKER, THE FACT THAT I
CAN BUY THIS FRUIT IS
SEWING THE SEEDS OF OUR
DESTRUCTION.
WILLIAM REES IS A
PROFESSOR AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH
COLUMBIA.
HIS PRIMARY INTEREST IS IN
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL
TRENDS AND SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT.
HE COINED THE TERM
"ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT."
NOW WHEN WE THINK OF BIG
CITIES, WE THINK OF THE
CONVENIENCE OF CHOICE, OF
HAVING EVERYTHING YOU
COULD POSSIBLY NEED WITHIN
THE CITY LIMITS, LIKE THIS
BLOOD ORANGE BUT OUR
CONVENIENCE HAS FAR
REACHING CONSEQUENCES WITH
DEVASTATING EFFECTS.
WILLIAM REES IS HERE TO
EXPLAIN HOW CITIES ARE
DESTROYING THE WORLD AS WE
KNOW IT AND AT THE END OF
THE LECTURE, HE HAS SOME
RADICAL SOLUTIONS, BUT
WILL THAT BE ENOUGH?
YOU'LL HAVE TO WATCH AND
JUDGE FOR YOURSELF.

A clip plays.
William Rees stands on a stage and addresses an unseen audience. He's in his fifties, with short gray hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing glasses, a black suit, white shirt, and flowery black tie.

He says I AM GOING TO BE DELIBERATELY,
OR WHAT I MIGHT CALL
PLAUSIBLY PROVOCATIVE.
SOME OF THE THINGS I SAY
WON'T SIT WELL WITH SOME
OF YOU BUT THAT'S OKAY.
WE NEVER REALLY PROGRESS
IN THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT
ANYTHING UNLESS WE'RE
CHALLENGED A LITTLE BIT TO
MOVE IN DIFFERENT SOMEWHAT
DIRECTION.

A presentation slide pops up that reads "Starting premises. The world is in a state of overshoot, beyond carrying capacity."

William continues MY STARTING PREMISES
THIS
EVENING ARE THAT THE
WORLD
IS ALREADY IN A STATE
OF
OVERSHOOT.
WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS,
CONSUMPTION BY THE HUMAN
POPULATION, THE HUMAN
ENTERPRISE, PEOPLE AND ALL
OF OUR FURNITURE AND
INFRASTRUCTURE, ALREADY
EXCEEDS THE LONG TERM
PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY OF THE
PLANET TO KEEP PRODUCING.
THE UNFORTUNATE FACT IS
THAT ONLY ABOUT A QUARTER
OF THE HUMAN FAMILY ENJOY
THE BENEFITS OF THAT LEVEL
OF CONSUMPTION.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "William Rees. U.B.C., School of community and regional planning. University of Toronto Mississauga. March 21, 2007."

William continues SO WE'RE
IN A BIT OF A DILEMMA IN
THAT WE'VE CREATED A
GLOBAL ECONOMIC SYSTEM
BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION
THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO
EXTEND THE CURRENT WAY OF
LIFE OF EUROPEANS AND
NORTH AMERICANS TO THE
REST OF THE WORLD WITH IMPUNITY.
HOWEVER
IF MY STARTING PREMISE IS
CORRECT, THEN THE BLUE
STATEMENT ALSO IS CORRECT.
INDEBTED TO MARTIN
OPPENHEIMER, A U.S.
SOCIOLOGIST, WHO
OBSERVED THAT IN MANY RESPECTS

A new slide appears and William reads
THE
MODERN CITY IS THE
MOST
VULNERABLE SOCIAL
STRUCTURE
EVER CONCEIVED BY
MAN.
AND THAT'S REALLY THE
SECOND PREMISE UNDER WHICH
I'M GOING TO OPERATE HERE.
NOW THE CONVENTIONAL VIEW,
AND I THINK MOST OF YOU
ARE FAMILIAR WITH THIS
KIND OF LANGUAGE, IT'S
CERTAINLY THE LANGUAGE OF
ALL OF OUR GOVERNMENTS.
IT'S THE LANGUAGE OF THE
UNITED NATIONS, THE WORLD
BANKS, MOST OF THE
PROMINENT INTERNATIONAL
INSTITUTIONS CONCERNED
WITH GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT.
YES, EVEN THE BRUNDTLAND
COMMISSION ADMITTED WE'RE
UNSUSTAINABLE BUT IT'S A
TEMPORARY PROBLEM.
IT HAS TO DO WITH MARKET
FAILURE.
IT HAS TO DO WITH ECONOMIC
INEFFICIENCIES,
TECHNOLOGICAL
INEFFICIENCIES AND
BASICALLY WE'RE IN A
POSITION TO USE OUR
INGENUITY, OUR WEALTH, OUR
CREATIVITY, TO SOLVE THE
PROBLEMS OF
UNSUSTAINABILITY THROUGH
GROWTH IN THE MONEY
SUPPLY.
ONE ECONOMIST IS FAMOUSLY
SAID "THE SUREST WAY TO A
CLEAN ENVIRONMENT IS TO
BECOME RICH."
SO WE'RE DEDICATED TO THE
PROPOSITION CAPTURED BY
JULIAN SIMON IN A
STATEMENT HE MADE IN
1995...

A new slide pops up and William read
TECHNOLOGY EXISTS NOW
TO
PRODUCE IN VIRTUALLY
INEXHAUSTIBLE
QUANTITIES ALL
THE PRODUCTS MADE BY
NATURE.
WE HAVE IN OUR HANDS,
THE
TECHNOLOGY TO FEED,
CLOTHE
AND SUPPLY ENERGY TO
AN
EVER-GROWING
POPULATION FOR
THE NEXT SEVEN BILLION
YEARS.
HUMANS ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR
HUBRIS SOMETIMES AND I
THINK THIS IS CLEARLY A
STATEMENT OF INORDINATE
HUBRIS, SUPER CONFIDENCE
IN OUR TECHNOLOGICAL
INGENUITY.
THE BOTTOM-LINE IS AGAIN,
FOR THE MOST PART, WE
THINK WE CAN GROW OUR WAY
TO SUSTAINABILITY.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT ALL OF
THIS DEPENDS LARGELY ON
THE NOTION THAT BY GETTING
MORE EFFICIENT, WE'RE
GETTING MORE SUSTAINABLE.
IN FACT THERE'S BEEN MORE
THAN ONE NOBLE PRIZE
AWARDED TO THE IDEA THAT
THROUGH INCREASING FACTOR
PRODUCTIVITY, BY DOUBLING
THE PRODUCTIVITY OF
ENERGY, OR BY DOUBLING THE
PRODUCTIVITY OF MATERIAL,
WE CAN PRODUCE TWICE AS
MUCH STUFF WITHOUT
INCREASING OUR IMPACT ON
THE PLANET.
AND THAT IF WE CAN DOUBLE
IT ONCE, WE CAN DOUBLE IT
AGAIN.
SO IN THEORY, WE SHOULD BE
ABLE TO CONTINUE TO GROW
INDEFINITELY WHILE NOT
INCREASING THE BURDEN WE
IMPOSE ON EARTH.
NOW I HAVE A WHOLE SERIES
OF TALKS ABOUT WHY THAT
DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAPPEN,
AS WE GET MORE EFFICIENT,
WE ACTUALLY BECOME MORE
BURDENSOME TO THE PLANET.
WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PUT
THAT ASIDE WITH A SIMPLE STATEMENT,

A new slide pops up and William reads
EFFICIENCY MAY BE NECESSARY
IN FACT IT IS
NECESSARY TO
BECOME SUSTAINABLE
IT'S NOT
SUFFICIENT.
ON THEIR OWN, ALL
EFFICIENCY
MEASURES SIMPLY MAKE
TECHNO-
INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY
MORE
EFFICIENTLY
UNSUSTAINABLE.
AND IN THAT CATEGORY I PUT
MOST OF THE THINGS WE ARE
DOING IN THE NAME OF URBAN
SUSTAINABILITY.
GREEN BUILDINGS, THE LEAD
PROGRAM, HYBRID VEHICLES,
SMART GROWTH, THE NEW
URBANISM, AND SO ON
LARGELY MAKE OUR URBAN
FORM A LITTLE BIT MORE
EFFICIENT BUT IT'S STILL
GROWTH AT THE MARGIN.
AND WHAT WE NEED IS
SHRINKAGE BACK TO A MUCH
SMALLER ECOLOGICAL
FOOTPRINT.
SO I LIKE THIS ANALOGY.
THE EARTH IS LIKE A SHIP.
WE CAN OVERLOAD IT.

A new slide pops up showing a sinking ship.

William continues THIS IS A SHIP SINKING
BECAUSE IT'S BEEN VERY
INEFFICIENTLY
OVERLOADED.
A DISASTER, A CATASTROPHE.
ONCE YOU'VE REACHED THE
PLIMSOLL LINE, IF YOU
CONTINUE TO LOAD THE SHIP
INEFFICIENTLY IT WILL
SINK.
WHAT WE'RE DOING IS
SHIFTING TO LOADING THE
SHIP EFFICIENTLY.
HERE'S AN EFFICIENTLY
OVERLOADED SHIP.

A picture shows a ship sinking.

William continues YOU'LL NOTICE THAT IT
DOES EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS
THE INEFFICIENTLY
OVERLOADED
SHIP.
IT MAY ALSO DO IT
FASTER.
BECAUSE ONE OF THE IRONIES
AND COUNTERINTUITIVE
EFFECTS OF EFFICIENCY IS
THAT IT ACTUALLY INCREASES
GROWTH CONSUMPTION.
THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES OF
WHERE GETTING MORE
EFFICIENT HAS LED TO
INCREASED LEVELS OF
MATERIAL AND ENERGY USE.
YOU MIGHT WONDER WHY.
FOR ONE THING PRICES GO
DOWN, WAGES AND SALARIES
GO UP SO THERE'S MORE
MONEY CHASING CHEAPER
GOODS AND SERIES, TOTAL
THROUGHPUT INCREASES.
SO EFFICIENCY IN AND OF
ITSELF WON'T DO IT.
IT'S NECESSARY BUT MUST BE
ACCOMPANIED BY OTHER KINDS
OF MEASURES.
SO WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO
FOR A MOMENT IS JUST THINK
OF SUSTAINABILITY.
MANY PEOPLE SAY "AH, WE
CAN'T DEFINE IT."
THERE ARE SOME MANY
VERSIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY
IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE
EVEN TO DISCUSS IT.
THIS IS STUPID.
IF YOU HAVEN'T A CLUE
WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, THEN
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GET
THERE.
OR YOU'LL GET SOMEWHERE
BUT IT MAY NOT BE THE
PLACE YOU WANT TO GO SO IT
REALLY DOES OBLIGE US TO
THINK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS
TO BE SUSTAINABLE.
AND WE CAN START TO THINK
ABOUT THAT IN SOME VARIOUS
SIMPLE WAYS.
FIRST OF ALL SOMETHING IS
SUSTAINABLE IF YOU CAN
KEEP DOING IT
INDEFINITELY, WITHOUT
RISKING, UNDERMINING
WHATEVER IT IS YOU NEED TO
KEEP GOING.
SO I THINK THAT'S AN
INTERESTING STARTING
POINT.
CAN WE KEEP BUILDING
CITIES LIKE TORONTO
INDEFINITELY AND HOPE THAT
THEY WILL CARRY ON
INDEFINITELY?
ANOTHER POINT IS WE KEEP
HEARING, "WELL THIS IS A
MORE SUSTAINABLE CITY THAN
THAT CITY."
THAT'S LIKE SAYING "YOU'RE
MORE PREGNANT THAN SHE IS."
WELL YOU'RE BOTH PREGNANT,
IT'S AN ABSOLUTE.
YOU'RE EITHER SUSTAINABLE
OR YOU'RE NOT.
YOU CAN BE CLOSER TO TERM
IN GETTING SUSTAINABLE
THAN ANOTHER PERSON BUT
YOU'RE EITHER SUSTAINABLE
OR YOU'RE NOT.
AND I THINK WE'VE GOT TO
FACE THAT REALITY AND MY
ARGUMENT IS THAT WE'RE NOT
SUSTAINABLE.
FINALLY TO SPEAK SENSIBLY
ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, YOU
NEED TO PUT IT IN CONTEXT.
SO JUST TO RATTLE YOU UP A
LITTLE BIT, I SAID I WAS
GOING TO BE PLAUSIBLY
PROVOCATIVE, HERE'S A
KID'S DRAWING OF AN
INDUSTRIAL CITY.

A slide shows a drawing of a smoky city surrounded by cut-down forests.

William continues COULD BE THE
INDUSTRIAL
REVOLUTION IN EUROPE,
COULD
BE A MODERN CHINESE
CITY,
SMOKEY, DISGUSTING,
FILTHY,
HORRIBLE PLACE FOR ITS
PEOPLE TO LIVE.
THE QUESTION IS, IS THIS
SMOKE-BELCHING FACTORY
CITY SUSTAINABLE?
IF YOU ASK THIS QUESTION
TO 99 percent OF PEOPLE, THEY'D
SAY OF COURSE NOT.
HOW COULD THIS BE
SUSTAINABLE?
THIS IS TERRIBLE.
SO WE GO TO THE NEXT
QUESTION.
IT'S A PHOTOGRAPH OF
MY HOME
TOWN ON LAST YEAR'S
SUNNY
DAY.

[Audience chuckling]

A slide shows a picture of a riverside city.

William continues THE
QUESTION IS, IS MODERN
VANCOUVER, CRYSTALLINE
AIR, URBAN GREEN SPACES,
GENERAL FEEL GOOD
ATMOSPHERE, A CITY THAT
ANNUALLY WINS THE MOST
LIVEABLE CITY ON THE
PLANET AWARD.
IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
AND MOST PEOPLE SAY "OF
COURSE, THAT'S THE
STANDARD TOWARD WHICH WE
ALL SHOULD BE ASPIRING."
MY POINT IS THAT NEITHER
OF THOSE ANSWERS IS
CORRECT.
THE 19TH CENTURY EUROPEAN
SMOKE BELCHING, FESTERING,
SORE OF AN INDUSTRIAL CITY
WAS SUSTAINABLE.
IT WAS SUSTAINABLE BECAUSE
THERE WEREN'T VERY MANY OF
THEM.
IF YOU PUT IT IN A GLOBAL
CONTEXT AND KEPT THE
NUMBER OF CITIES THAT WERE
BOOMING ALONG AT THE END
OF THE 19TH CENTURY, IT
COULD HAVE GONE ON FOREVER
BECAUSE THE TOTAL CAPACITY
OF THE SYSTEM TO WITHSTAND
THAT KIND OF PUNISHMENT
WAS FAR IN EXCESS OF THE
IMPACT IMPOSED BY THOSE
CITIES.
SO ARGUABLY, THESE SMOKE
BELCHING...
I'M NOT SAYING THEY WERE
GREAT PLACES TO LIVE.
THEY WERE MISERABLE FOR
THEIR INHABITANTS BUT THEY
COULD SUSTAIN THEMSELVES
INDEFINITELY ON THE
CAPACITY OF THE SYSTEM TO
PROVIDE RESOURCES AND
ASSIMILATE THEIR WASTES.
BY CONTRAST, THE 21ST
CENTURY FACTORY CITY IS
NOT SUSTAINABLE.
BECAUSE IN CONTEXT, IT'S
PART OF A UNSUSTAINABLE
SYSTEM.
AND SINCE THOSE CITIES,
PLUS MOST OTHER CITIES,
INCLUDING THIS ONE, ARE
USING UP THEIR NATURAL
CAPITAL, ERODING THE
FUNDAMENTAL MATERIAL BASIS
OF THEIR OWN EXISTENCE,
THEY ARE BY DEFINITION NOT
SUSTAINABLE.
I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO
UNDERSTAND HOW IN OUR
CULTURE WE DEFINITE "CITIES."

A slide reads "Defining the city."

William continues AND THIS IS AN EXERCISE I
DO IN SOME OF CLASSES IN
URBAN PLANNING.
STUDENTS COME IN AND
THEY'RE FROM A VARIETY OF
DISCIPLINES.
THERE'S ECONOMISTS,
DEMOGRAPHERS, GEOGRAPHERS
AND SO ON.
ALL OF WHOM WANT TO BECOME
PLANNERS.
I'M A BIOLOGIST.
I HAVE A DIFFERENT VIEW OF
MOST THINGS THAN MOST
PEOPLE; PERMANENTLY WARPED
BY MY PREVIOUS HISTORY
HERE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO.
SO WE SIT DOWN FOR ABOUT
TWO OR THREE HOURS AND I
ASK THEM TO BRING ALL
THEIR DICTIONARIES AND
TEXTBOOKS THAT TALK ABOUT
CITIES AND WE WOULD
COMPOSE A COMPOSITE
DEFINITION OF CITIES BASED
ON THE DISCIPLINARY
DEFINITIONS OF THESE MANY
DISCIPLINES.
SO IF YOU READ DEMOGRAPHY,
YOU LEARN ABOUT CITIES AS
CONCENTRATIONS OF HUMAN
NUMBERS.
CITIES BECOME NODES OF
IMMENSE POPULATION
DENSITY.
GEOGRAPHERS THINK OF THEM
IN MUCH THE SAME WAY.
ARCHITECTS TALK ABOUT THE
"BUILT ENVIRONMENT," AREAS
DOMINATED BY THE BUILT
ENVIRONMENT.
JANE JACOBS LATE OF THIS
CITY, ONCE DEFINED CITIES
AS THE "ENGINES" OF
NATIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH,
WHICH IS AN ECONOMIC
DEFINITION OF CITIES.
ENGINEERS WOULD THINK OF
THEM AS INTENSE NODES OF
INFRASTRUCTURE,
TRANSPORTATION,
COMMUNICATIONS, NETWORKS
AND ALL OF THAT SORT OF
THING.
ALL OF THIS IS TRUE.
THAT'S WHAT CITIES ARE.
SO WE COME UP WITH THIS
GRAND DEFINITION OF THE
CITY AS A NODE ON A PLANET
OF INTENSE HUMAN
CONCENTRATIONS OF
POPULATION DOMINATED BY
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND
LOTS OF ECONOMIC EXCHANGE
AND CULTURAL
INFRASTRUCTURE, BLAH,
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
AND I SAY OKAY GANG, IS
THAT IT?
IS THAT THE CITY?
YES THAT'S THE CITY.
IT MUST BE BECAUSE THAT'S
WHAT ALL THE BOOKS TELL
US.
BUT WHAT THE BOOKS DON'T
TELL YOU IS THAT THE CITY
IS A LIVING, BREATHING,
BIOLOGICAL ENTITY.
IT'S A SELF PRODUCING
SYSTEM IN MANY RESPECTS
AND WE TEND TO FORGET,
THAT AS A SELF PRODUCING
LIVING SYSTEM, AS A
BIOPHYSICAL ENTITY, CITIES
HAVE A VARIETY OF
PROPERTIES THAT WE DON'T
EVEN TAKE INTO ACCOUNT IN
MOST OF WHAT WE DO IN THE
NAME OF URBAN PLANNING OR
THINKING ABOUT CITIES.
SO I FALL BACK ON ONE OF
THE GREATEST ECOLOGISTS OF
NORTH AMERICA, EUGENE ODUM
IN HIS FAMOUS TEXTBOOK WAY
BACK IN THE 1970'S,
"FUNDAMENTALS OF ECOLOGY."
AND IN ONE PAGE HE
CAPTURED
IT WHEN HE TALKED
ABOUT...

A slide pops up and William reads
GREAT CITIES AS BEING
PLANNED AND GROWING
WITHOUT
ANY REGARD FOR THE
FACT
THAT THEY ARE
PARASITES ON
THE GLOBAL HINTERLAND.
THE GLOBAL COUNTRYSIDE
THAT
MUST SOMEHOW SUPPLY
FOOD,
WATER, RESOURCES OF
ALL
KINDS.
AND IN ADDITION, MUST
ASSIMILATE ALL THE
ENORMOUS WASTE OUTPUT, THE
THERMODYNAMIC COUNTERPART
OF RESOURCE CONSUMPTION
THAT RESULTS FROM THE USE
OF RESOURCES WITHIN
CITIES.
SO FROM A
BIOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW
JANE JACOBS WAS ONLY HALF
RIGHT.
IT'S TRUE THAT CITIES
PRODUCE ENORMOUS MONEY
WEALTH BUT TO DO THAT THEY
HAVE TO CONSUME VAST
QUANTITIES OF ENERGY AND
MATERIAL THAT IS PRODUCED
ELSEWHERE ON THE PLANET.
SO THIS
GIVES US QUITE A DIFFERENT
INSIGHT INTO THE NATURE OF
CITIES THAN WE NORMALLY
HAVE.
SO ONE WAY OF ADDRESSING
THIS SO PEOPLE REALLY GET
IT IS TO ASK STUDENTS,
EVEN KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL
LOVE THIS SORT OF THING,
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, ONCE
YOU'VE MADE THAT GRAND,
AGGREGATE DEFINITION OF A
CITY, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF
YOU ENCLOSE THAT ENTITY IN
A PLASTIC BELL JAR OR A
BIG, IMPERMEABLE CAPSULE
LIKE THIS?

A picture shows a city enclosed in a gigantic crystal bubble.

William continues AND BINGO, EVERYBODY GETS IT.
THE CITY WOULD DIE.
IT WOULD SUFFOCATE.
IT WOULD STARVE AT THE
SAME TIME.
AND THAT'S BECAUSE ALL OF
THE PRODUCTIVE FUNCTIONS
THAT ARE NECESSARY TO
SUSTAIN LIFE AND THE
ECONOMY OF THE CITY
ACTUALLY OCCUR OUTSIDE OF
IT ALTOGETHER.
SO FIRST OF ALL, LET'S GET
STRAIGHT THAT FROM A
STRICTLY PHYSICAL, A
BIOPHYSICAL POINT OF VIEW,
A THERMODYNAMIC POINT OF
VIEW, CITIES ARE A TINY
FRACTION OF THE HUMAN
ECOSYSTEM.
IN MANY RESPECTS THEY ARE
THE HUMAN EQUIVALENT OF
LIVESTOCK FEEDLOTS.
THINK ABOUT A FEEDLOT.
THIS IS OUR EFFICIENT WAY
OF RAISING BEEF.
WE PUT 50,000 ANIMALS IN A
FEW HECTARES.
WE'VE GOT ENORMOUS
QUANTITIES OF WASTE
BECAUSE WHAT'S GOING ON
THERE IS CONSUMPTION.
THE CONSUMPTION OF FODDER
WHICH IS GROWN WHERE?
IN THE FEEDLOT?
NO, IN THOUSANDS OF
HECTARES SOME DISTANCE
AWAY.
MAYBE SOME THOUSANDS OF
KILOMETRES AWAY FROM THE
FEEDLOT.
THE FEEDLOT IS AN INTENSE
NODE OF CONSUMPTION.
THE PRODUCTIVITY ACTIVITY
IS OCCURRING SOMEWHERE
ELSE.
WE'RE CONVERTING ALL THAT
IMPORTED FODDER AND GRAIN
INTO MEAT BUT AT HUGE
THERMODYNAMIC COSTS IN THE
FORM OF ALL THE WASTE
THAT'S GENERATED THAT
BECOMES A HUGE PROBLEM IN
TERMS OF DISPOSAL.
IN CANADA AS WE'VE SHIFTED
ANIMAL PRODUCTION AWAY
FROM THE AREAS OF CROP
PRODUCTION, WE NOW THROW
AWAY MORE NITRATE,
PHOSPHATE, AND SO ON IN
ANIMAL MANURE THAT'S NOW
CONSIDERED A WASTE PRODUCT
THAN WE THEN HAVE TO APPLY
TO THE LANDSCAPE IN THE
FORM OF ARTIFICIAL.
THIS IS NOT THE MARK OF AN
INTELLIGENT SPECIES.
THE MAIN POINT IS THAT
CITIES ARE NOT ONLY THE
HUMAN EQUIVALENT OF ANIMAL
FEEDLOTS BUT THEY'RE MORE
SO BECAUSE IN OUR
ADDITIONAL OUR BIOLOGICAL
METABOLISM WHICH HAS TO BE
SATISFIED BY PRODUCTION IN
THE COUNTRYSIDE, WE HAVE
AN INDUSTRIAL METABOLISM.
ALL OF THIS
INFRASTRUCTURE, ALL OF OUR
FURNITURE, ALL THE
GADGETRY, THE TRINKETS,
THE TOYS, THE COMPUTERS,
REQUIRES ADDITIONAL INPUTS
OF ENERGY AND MATERIAL,
NOT PRODUCED IN THE CITY
BUT THAT WHICH MUST BE
IMPORTED FROM OUTSIDE.
SO THE MORE WE LOOK AT
CITIES FROM THE POINT OF
VIEW OF MATERIAL FLOWS AND
ENERGY FLOWS, THE MORE WE
CAN APPRECIATE THEM AS
ESSENTIAL.
THEY ARE THE MAIN PLACE IN
WHICH WE KEEP OUR BODIES
BUT THEY ARE BY NO MEANS
THE WHOLE OF THE HUMAN
HABITAT.
DESPITE THE FACT THAT
RECENT CENSUS IN CANADA
TRUMPETS THE FACT THAT 80 percent
OF US NOW LIVE IN CITIES;
WE ARE LOSING OUR
DEPENDENCE ON THE
COUNTRYSIDE.
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER
FROM THE TRUTH.
EVERY ONE OF YOU, WHETHER
CONSCIOUS OF IT OR NOT,
HAS AN ECOLOGICAL
FOOTPRINT.
YOU COULD NOT SURVIVE
WITHOUT IT.
IT IS THE AREA OF
PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEMS,
BOTH TERRESTRIAL AND
AQUATIC, NEEDED TO PRODUCE
EVERYTHING THAT YOU
CONSUMER AND TO ASSIMILATE
THE WASTES THAT YOU
PRODUCE IN OUR ECONOMIC
PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION
SYSTEM.
THINK OF THE ECOFOOTPRINT
AS A KIND OF A PLACENTA.
YOU PROBABLY DON'T
REMEMBER YOUR LIFE AS AN
EMBRYO BUT YOU WERE A
LITTLE LIVING ENTITY
SUSPENDED IN THE AMNIOTIC
FLUID IN YOUR MOTHER'S
UTERUS.
ATTACHED TO MOTHER VIA A
TUBE AND A PLACENTA THAT
WAS SUCKING...
YOU WERE A PARASITE.
SOME OF YOU PROBABLY STILL ARE.

[Audience chuckling]

William continues THE POINT
IS A GROWING EMBRYO IS A
PARASITE.
WE THINK OF HUMAN
INDIVIDUATION AS BEGINNING
WITH BIRTH.
BECOME LIBERATED FROM THE
CONSTRAINTS OF MOM.
NOT SO.
WE SIMPLY REPLACE HER WITH
MOTHER EARTH BECAUSE YOUR
ECOFOOTPRINT IS THE ANALOG
OF THE PLACENTA.
IT'S THE PIECE OF THE
PLANET NEEDED TO PROVIDE
YOU WITH NUTRIENTS AND
ASSIMILATE THE WASTE; ALL
THE STUFF THAT THE
PLACENTA DID.
AND THE UMBILICAL CORD IS
THE PATTERN OF TRADE, THE
PIPELINES, THE VARIOUS
PLUMES OF SMOKE THAT YOU
SEE ALL OVER THE PLANET,
TRANSPORTING THE WASTES TO
THE ECOSYSTEMS THAT
SUSTAIN YOU AND BRINGING
TO YOU THE RESOURCES THAT
SUSTAIN YOU.
YOU'VE NEVER BEEN BORN.
THE CONCEPT OF MOTHER
EARTH IS MORE THAN MERE
ANALOGY.
IT'S A REALITY WHEN YOU
BEGIN TO THINK THIS WAY.
WE DEVELOPED A
TECHNOLOGY
WHEREBY WE CAN COMPUTE
THIS
AND WE CAN SAY WITH
FAIR
CONFIDENCE NOW THAT

A slide pops up and William reads
THE RANGE OF ECOFOOTPRINT
REQUIREMENTS OF PEOPLE
LIVING IN HIGH INCOME
COUNTRIES IS IN THE
ORDER OF
FOUR TO 10
HECTARES.
PEOPLE LIVING IN THE VERY
POOREST COUNTRIES GET BY
ON THE PRODUCT AND
ASSIMILATE CAPACITIES OF
LESS THAN A THIRD OF A
HECTARE.
A HECTARE BY THE WAY IS
2.47 ACRES IF YOU STILL
THINK IN ACRE TERMS SO
FOUR HECTARES, ABOUT 10
ACRES AND SO ON.
SO WE HAVE A HUGE
DISPARITY IN THE WORLD IN
TERMS OF THE DEMANDS THAT
PEOPLE PLACE ON THE
PLANET.
THOSE OF US WITH LOTS OF
MONEY...
MONEY BECOMES MERELY A
MEANS OF ACCESS TO THE
ENERGY AND MATERIAL THAT
WE CONSUME.
WHEN YOU GO SHOPPING YOU
ARE BUYING THE PRODUCTS OF
THE ECOSPHERE USING YOUR
MONEY.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE MUCH
MONEY YOU CAN'T BUY MUCH
STUFF.
SO IT'S NOT SURPRISING
THAT
THE SIZE OF
ECOFOOTPRINTS
VARIES VERY TIGHTLY
WITH
INCOME.
SO THE HIGH IN CONSUMING
COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA,
UNITED STATES HAVE VERY
LARGE FOOTPRINTS.
NOW OURS ARE A BIT
EXAGGERATED BECAUSE WE'RE
ALSO VERY INEFFICIENT.
WE HAVE VERY INEFFICIENT
AUTOMOBILES, VERY
INEFFICIENT BUILDING
STOCK.
WE HAVE BIG DISTANCES TO
TRAVEL SO WE USE A HELL OF
A LOT MORE MATERIAL.
OUR CARS ARE TOO BIG, OUR
HOMES-...
YOU KNOW WHAT?
THE AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE
IN CANADA HAS SHRUNK FROM
FIVE PEOPLE IN 1950 LIVING
IN A 1,200 SQUARE FEET
HOUSE, IF THEY HAD A HOUSE
IN 1950, NOW IT'S TWO
PEOPLE LIVING AT 3,700
SQUARE FEET.
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE
PEOPLE?
IN A TIGHT SUPPLY KIND OF
WORLD.
WHAT WE'VE SEEN THEN IS AN
INCREASE IN OUR
CONSUMPTIVE PROPENSITY AS
WEALTH INCREASES AND AS
THE NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLD
INCREASES AND SO ON.
THE PROBLEM OF ECOLOGICAL
DEFICITS IS BEGINNING TO
LOOM LARGE.
WHAT I MEAN BY THIS IS
THAT MANY HIGH INCOME
URBAN REGIONS, SUCH AS
THIS REGION IN CANADA, AND
IN EUROPE, MOST EUROPEAN
COUNTRIES ARE LARGE URBAN
NODES, THEY'RE LARGELY
CITIES WITH A BIT OF
COUNTRYSIDE IN BETWEEN
THEM.
BUT THEY ACTUALLY REQUIRE,
TO SUSTAIN JUST CURRENT
LEVELS OF CONSUMPTION, A
VASTLY LARGER AREA OF
PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEMS THAN
IS CONTAINED WITHIN THEIR
DOMESTIC TERRITORIES.
SO WE HAVE A SITUATION IN
WHICH THROUGH GLOBAL
TRADE, WE NOW CAN ACHIEVE
THROUGH COMMERCIAL TRADE,
WHAT USED TO REQUIRE
TERRITORIAL OCCUPATION.
IN ORDER TO GET THE
RESOURCES AND CHEAP LABOUR
THAT WE USED TO NEED TO
SUSTAIN EUROPE, WE HAD TO
GO AND CONQUER OTHER
COUNTRIES.
TODAY WE JUST DO IT
THROUGH GLOBALIZATION BUT
THE EFFECT IS EXACTLY THE
SAME.
MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
LIVE ON IMPORTED CARRYING
CAPACITY THEY ACQUIRED BY
TRADE FROM OTHER
COUNTRIES.
IN FACT THEY'RE RUNNING
HUGE ECOLOGICAL DEFICITS.
THAT MEANS THEY ARE
CONSUMING A LOT MORE IN
ECOLOGICAL TERMS THAN THEY
COULD ACTUALLY PRODUCE ON
THEIR OWN, INTERNAL,
NATURAL INCOME.
HERE ARE SOME GRAPHS
THAT
ILLUSTRATE THAT POINT.

A graph pops up showing the domestic biocapacity versus the ecological footprint for several countries.

William continues THE GREEN BARS
REPRESENT THE
AMOUNT OF PRODUCTIVE
ECOSYSTEM PER CAPITA
IN
VARIOUS COUNTRIES.
THE RED BARS REPRESENT
THE
AMOUNT OF PRODUCTIVE
ECOSYSTEM ON THE
PLANET
REQUIRED TO SUSTAIN
THE
AVERAGE PERSON IN EACH
OF
THOSE COUNTRIES.
AND AGAIN WE SEE THE HIGH
URBANIZED, HIGHLY
POPULATED COUNTRIES OF
EUROPE, UNITED KINGDOM,
NETHERLANDS AND JAPAN FOR
EXAMPLE ALL HAVE ENORMOUS
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINTS AND
ARE LIVING MOSTLY ON BIO
PRODUCTIVITY, OR BIO
CAPACITY, OUTSIDE THEIR
OWN BOUNDARIES WHICH THEY
APPROPRIATE EITHER THROUGH
TRADE OR SIMPLY BY DUMPING
THEIR WASTES INTO THE
ATMOSPHERE, THE OCEAN,
INTO THE GLOBAL COMMONS.
SO VERY FEW COUNTRIES HAVE
A SURPLUS.
CANADA HAPPENS TO BE ONE
OF THEM.
YOU CAN SEE HERE THAT
OUR
PER CAPITA FOOTPRINT
IS
ACTUALLY MUCH LESS
THAN THE
AVAILABLE PRODUCTIVE
CAPACITY PER CAPITA IN
THE
COUNTRY.
BUT IT'S A FALSE ILLUSION
TO THINK THAT WE HAVE
SURPLUS BECAUSE THIS IS A
ZERO SUM GAME.
THERE IS NO SURPLUS IN THE
WORLD.
WE'RE IN A NEGATIVE
SITUATION ACTUALLY AS THE
LITTLE BARS OVER ON THE
FAR RIGHT SHOW US.
SO THE SO CALLED SURPLUS
OF CANADA IS TAKEN UP IN
TRADE FLOWS TO OTHER
COUNTRIES.
THE NORTH ATLANTIC GROUND
FISH STOCKS, PARTICULARLY
THE COD THAT COLLAPSED IN
1992 WERE THE GREATEST
FISHERY ON PLANET EARTH.
IT WAS UNDER CANADIAN
MANAGEMENT.
WE WATCHED IT GO DOWN THE
TUBES FOR 40 YEARS, DURING
WHICH TIME THE FISHERIES
SCIENTISTS WERE TELLING
IT, HEY THE COD ARE GOING
DOWN THE TUBES WHEN ARE
YOU DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
THE GOVERNMENT SAID WE
CAN'T AFFORD TO PUT FISHER
FOLK OUT OF WORK.
WE CAN'T AFFORD TO OFFEND
THE BIG FISH PRODUCTS
COMPANIES.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO FISH.
SO WE DID AND THE STOCK
COLLAPSED.
AND WE HAVEN'T BEEN
FISHING SINCE 1992 AND IN
15 YEARS THE COD HAVE NOT
RECOVERED.
NOW IT'S NOT BECAUSE WE
WERE EATING TOO MANY FISH,
MOST OF THAT CATCH WAS
EXPORTED INTO THE
COUNTRY'S RUNNING
DEFICITS.
IN CANADA WE ARE OVER
HARVESTING OUR FORESTS.
IT'S NOT BECAUSE WE USE
TOO MUCH WOOD IN CANADA,
OR TOO MUCH PAPER.
MOST OF OUR LUMBER AND
PAPER PRODUCTS ARE
EXPORTED TO FILL THE
ECOLOGICAL DEFICITS IN
OTHER COUNTRIES.
SOIL SCIENTISTS WILL TELL
YOU WE'VE LOST 50 percent TO 75 percent
IN ORGANIC CONTENT OF
ORIGINAL NUTRIENTS OF THE
RICHEST SOILS, THE DEEP
PRAIRIE SOILS THAT GAVE
CANADA WORLD RECORD
PROTEIN AND GRAIN UP UNTIL
THE 1960'S WHEN WE
DISCOVERED THAT WE'D
EXPORTED MOST OF IT IN OUR
TRADE TO THE REST OF THE
WORLD AND NOW HAVE TO
FERTILIZE JUST TO MAINTAIN
PRODUCTION.
SO LET'S LOOK AT
SPECIFIC
CITIES.

A slide reads "The eco-deficits of cities."

William continues THE CITY OF VANCOUVER
PROPER
WHERE I LIVE HAS A
FOOTPRINT, WHAT DID I
SAY
HERE?, 344 TIMES
LARGER THAN
THE THING ON THE MAP
WE CALL
VANCOUVER.
WELL WHERE'S THAT?
THIS MEANS THAT LESS THAN
ONE THIRD OF ONE PERCENT
OF THE URBAN SYSTEM,
VANCOUVER IS REPRESENTED
ON THE MAP AS VANCOUVER.
THAT'S
NOT VERY BRIGHT IF YOU'RE
THINKING ABOUT
SUSTAINABILITY OF THAT
ENTITY.
IF WE LOOK AT A VERY GOOD
STUDY UNDERTAKEN...
MUCH BETTER DATA;
EUROPEANS HAVE MUCH BETTER
DATA GENERALLY THAN WE
HAVE AT THIS LEVEL,
CALLED
FOLKE, AT STOCKHOLM
UNIVERSITY AND A TEAM OF
ECOLOGISTS AND ECONOMISTS
THERE AND A COUPLE FROM
THE STATES AS WELL,
UNDERTOOK QUITE A DETAILED
STUDY
I GUESS MID 90'S OF
THE 29
LARGEST CITIES IN THE
VICINITY FO THE BALTIC SEA.
AND THEY FOUND THAT
THESE
CITIES HAD AN ECO
FOOTPRINT
IN THE AGGREGATE OF
500
TIMES TO 1,100 TIMES
LARGER
THAN THE AREA THEY
ACTUALLY OCCUPIED, THE
PHYSICAL, OR POLITICAL
AREA OF THOSE CITIES.
AND THEY BROKE IT DOWN
THIS WAY...

A graph pops up showing small boxes on the left, large boxes on the right, and a minuscule box in the middle.

William continues FOR EVERY SQUARE
KILOMETRE OF THE URBAN AREA
OF THOSE 29 CITIES
IF YOU JUST TAKE THE TOTAL
AREA AND TOTAL POPULATION,
THEN EACH SQUARE KILOMETRE
HAS A CERTAIN NUMBER OF
PEOPLE, I'M SORRY I FORGET
WHAT IT IS.
AND THAT'S THAT LITTLE
TINY SQUARE THERE, CITY,
ONE SQUARE KM.
OF EVERY SQUARE KM OF
URBAN CONSUMPTION THERE
HAS TO BE 18 SQUARE KM OF
FOREST IN CONTINUOUS
PRODUCTION PROVIDING THE
WOOD FIBRE FOR THE
CONSUMPTION FOR EVERY
SQUARE KM OF PEOPLE IN
THOSE CITIES.
THESE PEOPLE HAPPEN TO BE
BIG FISH EATERS.
SO IT TAKES 133 SQUARE KM
OF PRODUCTIVE OCEAN IN
CONTINUOUS PHOTOSYNTHETIC
PRODUCTIVITY TO PROVIDE
THE DAILY ALLOTMENT OF
FISH.
THIS IS CONTINUOUS, YEAR
AFTER YEAR.
IT'S NOT THAT THEY USE IT
UP BUT THEY NEED THAT ON A
CONTINUOUS BASIS AS THEY
GO FORWARD.
ALL THE STUFF ON THE RIGHT
IS THE WASTE ASSIMILATION.
THEY'VE GOT A HUGE
POLLUTION PROBLEM IN THE
BALTIC SEA SO THAT THEY
HAVE TO DO LAND DISPOSAL
OF THE NITRATES AND
PHOSPHATE WASTE.
IT CAN'T DO IT ON THE
AGRICULTURAL LAND BECAUSE
IT'S ALREADY EXCESSIVELY
CONTAMINATED BY ARTIFICIAL
FERTILIZER SO IT BECOMES A
SEPARATE PART OF THE
FOOTPRINT.
SO DEPENDING ON HOW YOU
WORK THIS ALL OUT, THE BIG
BLOCKS ON THE RIGHT
REPRESENT THE WASTE
ASSIMILATION LANDS
REQUIRED TO ACCOMMODATE
CONSUMPTION IN EACH SQUARE
KM OF THE CITY.
IT'S NOT HARD TO SEE WHY
IN THE END, THE CITY, AS A
COMPLETE ECOSYSTEM, IS
LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF
TIMES LARGER THAN THE
ENTITY WE THINK OF IN OUR
CURRENT MIND SET IN THE
NOTION OF CITY.

A picture shows a sunrise in a heavily polluted city.

William continues THIS IS A PHOTOGRAPH
OF
SUNRISE IN SUZHOU,
CHINA.
IT'S A TINY SUBURB OF
SHANGHAI, MEANING
THERE'S
SIX MILLION
PEOPLE.
IT'S A MAJOR INDUSTRIAL
SUBURB OF SHANGHAI.
IT TOOK THIS OUT OF MY
HOTEL WINDOW LAST FALL AT
A CONFERENCE IN SUZHOU,
DURING WHICH OUR HOSTS
WERE DELIGHTED WE WERE
ABLE TO ENJOY THE CITY ON
A BRIGHT SUNNY DAY.
TO THEM THIS WAS A BRIGHT
SUNNY DAY BUT WHAT STRUCK
ME ABOUT IT WAS SIMPLE
RECOGNITION THAT THE WASTE
THAT THESE PEOPLE BREATHE
DAILY IS AGAIN NOT TO
SATISFY
THEIR
CONSUMPTION, IT'S
PRODUCTION TO SATISFY
YOUR
CONSUMPTION.
THIS IS THE OTHER HALF OF
THE DISPLACEMENT OF OUR
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT.
NOT ONLY DO WE IMPORT FOOD
AND FLOWERS AND ALL KINDS
OF STUFF FROM THE
PRODUCTIVE LANDSCAPES OF
THE DEVELOPING WORLD BUT
WE DUMP UPON THEM THE
WASTES, THE DOWNSTREAM
FLOWS OF THE ENTROPIC
WASTES OF OUR ECONOMIC
PRODUCTION IS WHAT'S
CAUSING THE ACCELERATED
CANCER RATES, DEATH RATES
DUE TO ASPHYXIA AND ALL
KINDS OF HEART AND LUNG
DISEASES OCCURRING IN
CHINA.
SO WHEN I BUY MY
DELIGHTFUL LITTLE LAPTOP
FOR 600 dollars THESE DAYS THAT'S
A FRACTION OF THE TRUE
SOCIAL COST OF PRODUCING
THAT THING BECAUSE WE
DON'T INSIST THAT THEY
INCORPORATE THE
EXTERNALITIES ASSOCIATED
WITH THAT PRODUCTION INTO
THE PRICE OF OUR GOODS AND
SERVICES.
WE MAKE A MORAL CHOICE TO
CONSUME CHEAP AND EXPOSE
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO THE
INDUSTRIAL WASTE THAT WE
WON'T TOLERATE IN OUR OWN
COUNTRY.
THE REASON VANCOUVER HAS
SUCH PRISTINE AIR AND THE
REASON WHY AIR QUALITY AND
EVEN WATER QUALITY IN THIS
BASIN IN SOME DIMENSIONS
HAS IMPROVED IN RECENT
DECADES IS BECAUSE WE'VE
EXPORTED OUR DIRTY
INDUSTRIES INTO CHINA,
THAILAND AND OTHER PLACES
AND THEY NOW SUFFER THE
CONSEQUENCES OF
OUR CONSUMPTION.
RECENTLY THE GLOBE AND
MAIL HAS BEN HAVING A
SERIES OF ARTICLES ON WHAT
A HAZARD CHINA IS BECOMING
BECAUSE IT'S ALMOST AT THE
STAGE OF PASSING THE
UNITED STATES IN TOTAL CO2
EMISSIONS, IT MAY BE ONLY
TWO OR THREE YEARS AWAY
FROM REACHING THE SAME
LEVELS OF CARBON DIOXIDE
EMISSIONS AS THE UNITED STATES.
OH HORRORS!
THOSE NASTY CHINESE IS THE
IMPLICATION OF JEFFREY
YORK'S ARTICLES.
WHEN CHINA REACHES THE
SAME LEVEL OF FOSSIL FUEL
CONSUMPTION AND CO2
EMISSIONS AS THE UNITED
STATES, THE PER CAPITA
EMISSIONS BY CHINESE WILL
BE ONE QUARTER OF THAT IN
THE UNITED STATES.
THEY HAVE FOUR TIMES AS
MANY PEOPLE.
MOREOVER, MOST OF THAT CO2
EMISSION DOES NOT BENEFIT
THE CHINESE.
IT'S GOING INTO THE
MANUFACTURE OF GOODS AND
SERVICES, OR PARTICULARLY
THE MANUFACTURED GOODS FOR
THE REST OF THE WORLD.
THIS IS
OUR
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT AND
THE CLOUD THAT CHINA IS
CREATING IS TO SATISFY THE
NEEDS OF PEOPLE, OR AT
LEAST THE DEMANDS OF
PEOPLE IN THE REST OF THE
WORLD.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL IMPLIED
THAT CHINA'S FACTORIES AND
POWER PLANTS ARE
INCREDIBLY INEFFICIENT.
I WROTE A COUPLE OF
LETTERS, COULDN'T GET THEM
PUBLISHED POINTING OUT
THAT THE INEFFICIENCY IS
HERE IN NORTH AMERICA.
WHAT COULD BE MORE
INEFFICIENT THAN DRIVING A
300 OR 400...
YOU CAN NOW BUY THREE
DIFFERENT KINDS OF 500
HORSEPOWER SUVS.
AND WE'RE GOING TO USE
THAT HORSEPOWER TO GO TO
THE STORE TO BUY A LOAF OF
BREAD.
THAT
IS
INEFFICIENT USE OF FOSSIL
FUEL.
NOT TRYING TO PULL
YOURSELF UP TO A
REASONABLY DECENT STANDARD
OF LIVING THROUGH SERVING
AS THE WASTE DUMP AND
MANUFACTURING CENTRE OF
THE WORLD.
HERE'S THE RISK WE
FACE
GLOBALLY PRECISELY
BECAUSE
OUR CITIES
AND HIGHLY POPULATED
COUNTRIES HAVE EXCEEDED
THEIR CARRYING CAPACITY.
WHAT WE SHOW HERE IS THE
CARRYING CAPACITY OF THE
EARTH.
NOW IT VARIES.
IF CARRYING CAPACITY IS
THE POPULATION NUMBER, THE
NUMBER OF PEOPLE THE EARTH
CAN SUPPORT DEPENDS ON
MATERIAL STANDARD,
EXPECTATIONS AND A VARIETY
OF THINGS.
BUT WHATEVER MATERIAL
STANDARD YOU DECIDE ON IS
APPROPRIATE THERE WILL BE
A CARRYING CAPACITY.
THAT BECOMES THE MAXIMUM
PERMISSIBLE LEVEL OF GROSS
CONSUMPTION BY THE WHOLE
OF THE POPULATION IN
EFFECT.
IF YOU EXCEED THAT, YOU'VE
EXCEEDED ONE PLANET
LIVING.
YOU HAVE TO REMAIN WITHIN
CARRYING CAPACITY.
BUT OF COURSE WHAT WE'RE
DOING TODAY BECAUSE WE
OPERATE UNDER AN ECONOMIC
MYTH OF PERPETUAL GROWTH,
THE MYTH THAT EACH OF US
CAN ANTICIPATE A 2 percent, 3 percent OR
5 percent INCREASE IN OUR
CONSUMPTION BECAUSE OF
RISING SALARIES, THE
METHOD WE CAN EXTEND THAT
TO JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY ELSE.

A chart pops up titled "Societies in overshoot reduce their future carrying capacity."

William continues THAT MEANS THAT
BECAUSE OF
RISING PER CAPITA
CONSUMPTION AND
INCREASING
POPULATION,
CONSUMPTION IS
STEADILY INCREASING.
AND SOMETIME IN THE
80'S WE
PASSED THE POINT OF
BEING A
ONE PLANET URBAN
SOCIETY, GLOBAL URBAN
SOCIETY.
AS WE GET INTO THE
STRATOSPHERE THERE WE
ERODE THE PRODUCTIVE BASE
OF EARTH.
SO THE FISH STOCKS ARE
COLLAPSING, THE SOILS ARE
ERODING, THE FORESTS ARE
IN DECLINE, WATER TABLES
ARE FALLING AND SO ON AND
SO FORTH.
ACCUMULATIONS OF CARBON
DIOXIDE AND OTHER
GREENHOUSE GASES IN THE
ATMOSPHERE, TOXIC
CONTAMINATION OF YOUR FOOD
SUPPLIES, ALL OF THESE
THINGS ARE INDICATIONS OF
BEING IN A STATE OF
OVERSHOOT.
BUT ONCE YOU GET INTO THAT
STATE AND CONTINUE, THE
CAPITAL BASE BECOMES SO
ERODED THAT THE SYSTEM HAS
TO ADJUST IN SOME WAY.
AND YOU CAN EITHER
ENGINEER A SMOOTH LANDING
OR YOU CAN CRASH.
THE CHOICE IS OURS IF WE
CHOOSE TO EXERCISE OUR
INTELLECT AND
INTELLIGENCE.
SO FROM A STRICTLY
THERMODYNAMIC POINT OF
VIEW, I WANT TO EMPHASIZE
THAT CITIES ARE STRUCTURES
THAT EXIST BECAUSE THERE
ARE AVAILABLE INGREDIENTS
OF ENERGY AND MATERIAL ON
THE PLANET.
THE MODERN CITY IS A
PRODUCT OF FOSSIL FUEL,
COULDN'T EXIST IN THE
ABSENCE OF FOSSIL FUEL.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT
INGREDIENTS THAT SUSTAIN
OUR MODERN CITIES, ARE
ENERGY AND SOIL, SO LET'S
LOOK AT CITIES AS
VULNERABLE ENTITIES WITH
THAT IN MIND.
WE'VE LOST...ABOUT 38 percent OF
ALL THE CROPLAND ON THE
EARTH IS IN A STATE OF
DECAY, OF RAPID EROSION.
WE'VE LOST 21 percent OF ALL THE
CROPLAND THAT WAS
AVAILABLE TO US 50 YEARS AGO.
THIS IS ENOUGH LAND TO
FEED ALL OF EUROPE AT
CURRENT DIETARY STANDARDS.
SO ALL OF THAT IS GONE OUT
OF PRODUCTION BECAUSE OF
INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE
IMPACTS.
WE'RE CONTINUING TO LOSE
BETWEEN FIVE TO SEVEN
MILLION ADDITIONAL
HECTARES EVERY YEAR
BECAUSE OF THE EXTENSION
OF THESE PRACTICES.
GLOBALLY DIFFERENT SOIL
STUDIES SUGGEST THAT SOIL
EROSION FROM MISUSE AND
WIND AND WATER AND ALL OF
THAT IS PRECEDING NOW IN
AREAS UNDER AGRICULTURE AT
16 TO 300 TIMES THE RATE
AT WHICH SOIL FORMS UNDER
DIFFERENT CONDITIONS ON
THE PLANET.
NOW AGAIN, WE DON'T KNOW
THIS BECAUSE WE'VE GOT ALL
THE MONEY WE NEED TO BUY
WHATEVER WE WANT FROM
WHEREVER IT IS PRODUCED SO
THESE TRENDS CAN GO ON
INDEPENDENT OF ANY
FEEDBACK ON US THAT THERE
IS EVEN AN INCIPIENT
PROBLEM LET ALONE A REAL
ONE, BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT
WE ARE ALREADY SEEING
PEOPLE BEING DISPLACED ALL
OVER THE WORLD FROM
DEGRADED LANDSCAPE, ONE OF
THE REASONS WE'RE SEEING
THE EMERGENCE OF BARRIOS
AND FAVELAS IN THIRD
WORLD CITIES.
WELL WE'VE USED FOSSIL
ENERGY AS A TEMPORARY
SUBSTITUTE FOR FUEL.
MOST OF YOU ARE FAMILIAR
WITH THE GREEN REVOLUTION.
MOST PEOPLE THINK IT'S THE
RESULT OF HIGH YIELD
VARIETIES OF CORN, RICE,
GRAIN AND SO ON AND SO
FORTH.
BUT A NUMBER OF STUDIES
HAVE SHOWN THAT MOST OF
THE PRODUCTIVITY THAT WE
SAW FROM THE 1950'S TO THE
1980'S, THIS GREAT
BURGEONING OF FOOD
PRODUCTION STAYED AHEAD OF
THE HUGE POPULATION GROWTH
IN THAT PERIOD OF TIME,
WAS A RESULT OF FOSSIL
FUEL INPUTS.
NITROGEN FERTILIZER,
PHOSPHATE FERTILIZERS,
PESTICIDES, ALL OF WHICH
ARE MADE FROM DERIVATIVES
OF FOSSIL FUEL.
SO THAT'S FINE EXCEPT FOR
THE FACT THAT FOSSIL FUELS
MAY NOT BE IN THE PICTURE
FOREVER.

A graph shows the percentage of work done by domesticated animals, labor and fuel, from 1850 to 1970. It goes from 65 percent animals, 15 percent labor and 20 percent fuel to 100 percent fuel.

William continues THIS SLIDE I THINK IS
REALLY
IMPORTANT
BECAUSE IT ILLUSTRATES
THE
EXTENT TO WHICH WE
HAVE
BECOME TOTALLY ENERGY
DEPENDENT ON FOSSIL
FUELS.
AROUND 1850, WE SAW
THE
LARGE SCALE
INTRODUCTION OF
FOSSIL FUEL IN THE
ECONOMY
IN NORTH AMERICA,
PARTICULARLY COAL AND
OIL,
NATURAL GAS
FOLLOWED.
BUT WHAT
WE SEE HERE IS THE STEADY
DISPLACEMENT OF ANIMAL AND
HUMAN LABOUR FROM ANY
IMPORTANCE IN THE ECONOMY.
WE DON'T EVEN COUNT THEM
ANYMORE.
SO WHEN
WE TALK ABOUT ENERGY
EXPENDITURES, IN THE NORTH
AMERICAN ECONOMY WE'RE NOT
TALKING ABOUT HORSES AND
MULES AND PEOPLE DOING
WORK IT'S ALL FOSSIL FUEL.
150 YEARS AGO MOST OF THE
WORK ON THE PLANET WAS
DONE BY HUMAN MUSCLE AND
ANIMAL MUSCLES WHICH WE
DON'T EVEN COUNT ANYMORE
IT'S SO TRIVIAL AND
INSIGNIFICANT.
SO WE SHOULD NOTE THAT...
IT WAS ALSO IN 1850 THAT
THE HUMAN POPULATION BEGAN
TO GROW VERY SHARPLY.
SINCE THEN IT'S
QUADRUPLED, ACTUALLY GONE
UP BY A FACTOR OF FIVE, SO
COINCIDENT WITH THIS
INORDINATE USE OF FOSSIL
FUEL HAS BEEN THIS
EXPLOSION IN HUMAN NUMBERS.
WHY?
BECAUSE THE FOSSIL FUEL IS
USED TO PRODUCE THE FOOD
AND ALL THE OTHER
INFRASTRUCTURE THAT MAKE
POSSIBLE THE EXPLOSION OF
HUMAN NUMBERS.
NOW SOME WILL SAY, WELL
NO, IT'S BECAUSE MEDICINE
HAS IMPROVED, SURVIVAL
RATES HAVE IMPROVED.
YES THEY HAVE.
BUT IT WOULDN'T MATTER IF
SURVIVAL RATES HAD
IMPROVED IF YOU COULDN'T
FEED THE PEOPLE AND THAT'S
WHAT THE FOSSIL FUEL DOES.
WE ARE THE PRODUCT OF
FOSSIL FUEL.
TODAY, IF YOU HAVE A PLATE
OF FUEL, 9 OUT OF 10
CALORIES ON THAT PLATE ARE
DERIVED FROM FOSSIL FUEL.
150 YEARS AGO 10 OUT OF 10
CALORIES WERE DERIVED FROM
SOLAR INPUTS, AND SOME
WORK BY HUMANS AND
ANIMALS.
THAT'S A HUGE TRANSITION
IN FIVE GENERATIONS OF
PEOPLE AND WE THINK THIS
IS NORMAL.
THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST
ABNORMAL PERIOD IN THE
HISTORY OF HUMAN BEINGS.
HERE'S THE LOOMING
PROBLEM.

A graph shows the oil and gas liquids 2004 scenario.

William continues I'M NOT AN OIL
GEOLOGIST BUT
THERE'S A BIG DEBATE
GOING
ON AMONG PEOPLE WHO
STUDY
ENERGY.
WHEN DO YOU MOST OF YOU
THINK THE PEAK OF
DISCOVERY, THE RATE AT
WHICH WE WERE DISCOVERY
OIL OCCURRED?
I DON'T EXPECT YOU TO
KNOW.
THE ANSWER IS 1962, 63 SO
WE HAVE ANOTHER PEAK AND
IT'S WAY BACK HERE IN THE
60'S.
THE DISCOVERY PEAK LOOKS
JUST LIKE THIS PEAK, IT'S
A HUMP LIKE THAT AND IT
SAYS THAT MAXIMUM
DISCOVERIES IN 63, SINCE
THEN ON AVERAGE EVERY YEAR
WE FIND LESS AND LESS
FOSSIL FUEL, PETROLEUM.
WE'VE NOW USED HALF OF
WHAT WAS DISCOVERED SO
SOME ARE SAYING THAT WE'VE
REACHED THE POINT WHERE
WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE OR
SO OIL PRODUCTION ON
PLANET EARTH WILL PEAK AND
IT'S DOWNHILL THEREAFTER.
MEANWHILE CHINA AND INDIA
ARE JUST BEGINNING TO
COMPETE FOR FOSSIL FUEL IN
WORLD MARKETS.
THE UNITED STATES, LISTEN,
EVERYBODY LISTENING, USES
ONE QUARTER OF ALL THE
PETROLEUM PRODUCED ON
PLANET EARTH TODAY.
THE UNITED STATES HAS ONE
QUARTER THE POPULATION OF
CHINA.
CHINA WANTS TO BE THE
UNITED STATES.
DO THE MATH, THERE ISN'T
THE ENERGY THERE.
AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN
COUNTED INDIA WHICH HAS
THE SAME POPULATION AS
CHINA AND WILL SOON
SURPASS CHINA OR THE REST
OF THE WORLD WHICH ALSO
NEEDS ENERGY SO IF THE
PEAK OIL THEORISTS ARE
CORRECT WE HAVE A HUGE
ENERGY CRUNCH COMING UP IN
A CULTURE TOTALLY
DEPENDENT ON ENERGY FOR
JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.
WELL EVERYBODY SAYS NO
PROBLEM, HUMAN INGENUITY
WILL FIND SUBSTITUTES BUT
THOSE WHO LOOK CAREFULLY
AT THE ENERGY OF FOSSIL
FUEL AND THE PRODUCTIVE
POTENTIAL OF MANY OF THE
ALTERNATIVES COME UP WITH
THIS KIND OF A CONCLUSION.

A slide pops up titled "On alternatives: Scarce comfort for urban civilization."

William reads
THE RENEWABLE SOURCES
OF
ENERGY, DIRECT
SUNLIGHT,
WIND, HYDROPOWER,
BIOMASS,
ARE ALL SOLAR IN
ORIGIN AND
ARE INADEQUATE FOR
RUNNING
IN TOTO INADEQUATE FOR
RUNNING ANYTHING
PASSING FOR
CIVILIZATION.
THEY HAVE NO CHANCE
WHATSOEVER OF
SUSTAINING THE
PRESENT WORLD'S
POPULATION.
NOW THAT'S A FAIRLY
PESSIMISTIC STATEMENT.
I'M NOT SURE I BELIEVE IT
ENTIRELY BUT WHEN START
LOOKING AT COMPONENTS OF
IT, IT STARTS TO BE
PLAUSIBLE.
LOOK AT BIOFUELS.
THIS IS ONE OF THE
STUPIDEST THINGS YOU CAN
POSSIBLY IMAGINE.
MANY PEOPLE ARE TALKING
TODAY AS IF BIOFUELS CAN
REPLACE FOSSIL FUEL.
IF THE UNITED STATES
PRODUCED FUEL FOR ITS
AUTOMOBILE FLEET ON EVERY
SINGLE HECTARE ON ARABLE
LAND, IT WOULD GET 8 percent OF
CURRENT REQUIREMENTS.
HEAR WHAT I SAID?
THAT LEAVES NO LAND FOR
FOOD OR ANYTHING ELSE.
IF YOU FOLLOW THIS DEBATE,
RIGHT NOW THE UNITED
STATES COMMITS OVER A
THIRD, GOING TO ONE HALF
BY END OF NEXT YEAR, OF
ALL ITS CORN PRODUCTION TO
ETHANOL.
THIS IS NUTS.
THE PRICE OF CORN HAS
DOUBLED IN NINE MONTHS
BECAUSE THE DEMAND OF CORN
BY THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY.
MEANWHILE IN MEXICO THERE
ARE FOOD RIOTS BECAUSE THE
PRICE OF CORN TORTILLAS OR
THE FLOUR TO MAKE THEM HAS
RISEN BY A FACTOR OF FOUR.
AN ORDINARY PEASANT CAN'T
EAT.
THEY CAN'T EAT BECAUSE
WE'RE FEEDING THE CORN TO
OUR CARS INSTEAD.
IF WE DO THAT CONSCIOUSLY
AND BY CHOICE WE ARE
MAKING A MORAL JUDGEMENT
OF I THINK APPALLING
CONSEQUENCES.
NO STUDY SAYS THAT YOU GET
MUCH MORE THAN ABOUT 10 percent
TO 20 percent MORE ENERGY OUT OF
ETHANOL THAN YOU HAD TO
PUT INTO THE GROWING OF
THE CORN AND THE
PROCESSING OF IT.
THE MORE CREDIBLE STUDY IS
DONE BY PEOPLE WITH NO
STAKE IN THE INDUSTRY
SHOW, IT TAKES 20 percent MORE
FOSSIL FUEL TO GROW AND
PROCESS THE GROWN THAN YOU
GET OUT OF THE ETHANOL
PRODUCT.
SO LOOK HOW STUPID THIS IS
IF THAT'S TRUE.
LET'S JUST EVEN ASSUME WE
BREAK EVEN.
ISN'T IT A GREAT IDEA TO
USE ALL THIS FOSSIL FUEL
TO GROW ALL THIS CORN TO
FEED THE CARS AND TAKE
AWAY FOOD FROM PEOPLE TO
PRODUCE LESS ENERGY THAN
YOU STARTED WITH?
HUH?
NOT THE MARK OF AN
INTELLIGENT SPECIES.
WHAT'S THE PROOF THAT THAT
ARGUMENT MAY BE MORE
CORRECT THAN THOSE WHO SAY
WE'RE PRODUCING NET
ENERGY?
THE PROOF IS THAT THE
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
HAS TO PAY ABOUT 59 TO 79
CENTS PER LITRE SUBSIDY TO
MAKE THAT ETHANOL
COMPETITIVE WITH GASOLINE
IN THE MARKETPLACE.
WHY?
BECAUSE THAT'S ABOUT THE
AMOUNT OF MONEY NEEDED TO
PAY FOR THE GASOLINE TO
PRODUCE THE ETHANOL.
MY GOODNESS PEOPLE, THIS
IS NOT INTELLIGENCE, AND
WE IN CANADA ARE FOLLOWING
THAT PATH.
WE NOW HAVE A FARM LOBBY
AND AN INDUSTRIAL LOBBY
IMPORTED FROM THE UNITED
STATES, IN THE MAIN
PSYCHOLOGICALLY IF NOT
REALLY, TO CONVINCE US TO
USE OUR GRAIN AND CORN TO
PRODUCE ETHANOL.
I THINK WE REALLY NEED TO
RECONSIDER THAT.
IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.
CERTAINLY FITS INTO THIS
KIND OF ARGUMENT.
WELL OUR THIRD
VULNERABILITY IS JUST AS
IMPORTANT.

A slide pops up that reads "Urban vulnerability 3: Climate change."

William continues FIRST OF ALL THESE
DATA ARE
NOT MINE.
THESE ARE THE DATA
FROM THE
STERN REPORT.
NICHOLAS STERN, A FORMER
CHIEF ECONOMIST AT THE
WORLD BANK, WAS
COMMISSIONED BY TONY
BLAIR'S GOVERNMENT IN
BRITAIN TO PREPARE A
REPORT ON THE POTENTIAL
ECONOMIC COSTS OF CLIMATE
CHANGE.
HIS REPORT IS ONLINE.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD SUMMARIES
OF IT OR THE WHOLE THING.
HE REPORTED ON OCTOBER 30
OF LAST YEAR AND HERE WERE
SOME OF HIS FINDINGS.
THESE ARE PLAUSIBLE NOT...
HE'S NOT SAYING THIS
WILL
HAPPEN BUT HE
IS SAYING THAT WE'RE ON
TRACK TO REACH ABOUT A
THREE DEGREE INCREASE IN
MEAN GLOBAL TEMPERATURES.
IF WE GET THERE, THIS IS
WHAT WILL HAPPEN.
MAJOR DECLINES IN CROP
YIELDS OVER ENTIRE
REGIONS.
NOW LOOK, WE'RE
CONFRONTING SOIL PROBLEMS.
WE'RE LOSING THE ENERGY
BASIS TO PRODUCE FOOD.
THE THIRD VULNERABILITY OF
OUR DEPENDENT CITIES IS
THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES
THAT MAY IMPOSE GREATER
STRESSES ON THOSE SYSTEMS
THAN WE CAN COMPENSATE FOR
WITH A DECLINING ENERGY
SUPPLY AND DETERIORATING
SOILS.
AGAIN, NOT PREDICTIONS,
JUST PLAUSIBLE OUTCOMES OF
CURRENT TRENDS UNLESS WE
DECIDE TO DO SOMETHING
ABOUT IT.
RUNAWAY CLIMATE
FEEDBACKS,
METHANE RELEASE.
WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WOULD
BE THE RESULT IF ALL THE
METHANE TRAPPED IN THE
FROZEN GAS HYDRATES OF THE
TUNDRA, AND PERMA FROSTS
OF NORTHERN CANADA AND
SIBERIA AND IN THE
CONTINENTAL SHELVES
UNDERNEATH THE OCEAN ARE
RELEASED INTO THE
ATMOSPHERE.
THERE ARE BILLIONS OF TONS
OF THIS STUFF.
IT'S BEEN FROZEN THERE FOR
EONS.
ONE OR TWO DEGREE
TEMPERATURE INCREASE, IT
MELTS.
EVERY MOLECULE OF METHANE
IS 24 TIMES MORE POWERFUL
AS A GREENHOUSE GAS AND
CARBON DIOXIDE.
MOST OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE
PREDICTIONS TALK ABOUT
CARBON DIOXIDE.
IF METHANE BECOMES A MAJOR
PART OF THE PICTURE, IT'S
GAME OVER.
WE HAVE NO WAY TO CONTROL
THAT.
WE HAVE NO MODELS THAT
INCORPORATE THE POTENTIAL
IMPACT OF THIS METHANE.
SOME PEOPLE ARE NOW
CALLING IT THE EARTH'S
METHANE BURP.
BLOOP, UP IT GOES AND IT'S
HAPPENED APPARENTLY IN
PREVIOUS TIMES.
ACCELERATED MELTING OF
THE
WORLD'S MAJOR GLACIERS
WITH
ATTENDANT MAJOR
FLOODING.
THIS IS ALREADY
INDICATIVE.
THERE ARE INDICATIONS IT'S
BEGUN TO HAPPEN.
IN THE LAST COUPLE OF
YEARS WE'VE SEEN A TOTALLY
UNANTICIPATED RATE OF
MELTDOWN OF THE ICECAPS OF
GREENLAND AND OF
ANTARCTICA, WAY BEYOND THE
PROJECTIONS OF CLIMATE
MODELS TO-DATE.
IN FACT IT'S SO SCARY THAT
THEY DIDN'T EVEN CONSIDER
IT IN THE LAST INTER-
GOVERNMENT PANEL ON
CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT
BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T
REALLY CERTAIN IF IT WAS
CONTINUE OR HOW TO ACCOUNT
FOR IT OR EXPLAIN IT SO
THEY JUST LEFT IT OUT, BUT
IF IT'S AN ONGOING TREND
THEN THIS IS POSSIBLE.
SEA LEVEL RISE
THREATENING,
HERE'S THE CITIES THAT
HE LISTED.
THE POINT IS 7 percent OF
HUMANITY LIVES IN COASTAL
AREAS THAT WILL BE
ELIMINATED BY THE SEA
LEVEL RISE, PLAUSIBLE
UNDER A THREE DEGREE
CELSIUS INCREASE IN
TEMPERATURE BY THE END OF
THE CENTURY.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO
WITH 350 OR 400 MILLION
PEOPLE WHO ARE LEFT
HOMELESS?
THEIR CITIES ERODED, THEIR
VILLAGES WIPED OUT AND
SOME OF THE WORLD'S BEST
AGRICULTURAL LANDS WHICH
HAPPENS TO BE IN OUR
COASTAL PLAINS FLOODED BY
RISING CLIMATE.
THESE THINGS, AGAIN, NOT
MY DATA, THAT IS WHAT'S
NOW CONSIDERED PLAUSIBLE
IN THIS REPORT AND THAT'S
WHY HE SAID IF WE DON'T
START
NOW
IN
INVESTING 1.5 percent OF GDP IN
AVOIDING THIS KIND OF
STUFF, WE'LL BE SPENDING
5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent OF GDP ON THE
DAMAGE COSTS AT SOME LATER
DATE.
AND
THERE'S MANY OTHER
PROBLEMS LISTED, I'VE JUST
PUT IN A FEW OF THEM HERE.
SO WITH
ALL OF THAT I MIND, I
THINK IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO
BACK TO THE BEGINNING,
REASSESS OUR RELATIONSHIP
TO NATURE AND STATE A FEW
SENSIBLE CRITERIA THAT WE
COULD APPLY TO ACHIEVE
URBAN SUSTAINABILITY AND
THE SUSTAINABILITY OF OUR
CULTURE.

A slide reads "Biophysical criteria for sustainability."

William reads THE HUMAN ENTERPRISE IS
SUSTAINABLE IF AND ONLY IF
IT DOES NOT CONSUME OUR
ESSENTIAL SELF PRODUCING
NATURAL CAPITAL, RENEWABLE
RESOURCES, FASTER THAN
THEY CAN BE PRODUCED IN
NATURE.
IF YOU LIVE ON YOUR SOIL,
YOUR FISH STOCKS, THE
ASSIMILATIVE CAPACITY
ATMOSPHERE AND THE
ECOSYSTEM FOR CARBON
DIOXIDE, YOU CAN'T
CONTINUOUSLY AND
CUMULATIVELY EXCEED THAT
CAPACITY AND BE
SUSTAINABLE.
YOU WILL BE WIPED OUT
EVENTUALLY.
YOU CAN'T GENERATE TOXIC
AND ECOLOGICALLY ACTIVE
WASTE FASTER THAN IT CAN
BE ASSIMILATED OR
NEUTRALIZED BY NATURE.
CARBON DIOXIDE IS A WASTE
PRODUCT OF THE USE OF
FOSSIL FUEL.
IT IS ACCUMULATING IN THE
ATMOSPHERE VASTLY FASTER
THAN IT CAN BE ASSIMILATED
BY THE CARBON SAINTS OF
THE OCEAN AND THE LAND.
SO THOSE ARE
BIOPHYSICAL
CRITERIA.
HERE'S AN ETHICAL ONE.

A slide reads "An ethical criterion for sustainability."

William reads THE LIFESTYLES OF
INDIVIDUALS OR
POPULATIONS,
YOU AND US, ARE
SUSTAINABLE
IF AND ONLY THEY COULD
BE
EXTENDED TO THE WHOLE
HUMAN
POPULATION WITHOUT
EXCEEDING
GLOBAL CARRYING
CAPACITY.
THAT'S AN ETHICAL
CHOICE.
DO WE HAVE THE RIGHT, THE
20 percent OF US WHO HAVE MOST OF
THE MONEY, TO CONSUME ALL
OF THE WORLD'S BIOPHYSICAL
OUTPUT?
RIGHT NOW YOU CAN GO AND
DOWNLOAD THE UNITED
NATIONS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
REPORT FOR 2005.
YOU WILL FIND THAT THE
RICHEST 20 percent OF THE PEOPLE
ON PLANET EARTH USE 75 percent OF
EVERYTHING.
THE POOREST 20 percent OF THE
PEOPLE ON PLANET EARTH,
GET 1.5 percent OF GLOBAL OUTPUT.
THAT'S THEIR SHARE OF
WORLD INCOME.
SO HERE ARE TWO
STATEMENTS,
SOME YEARS APART.

A slide reads "Sustainability implies the end of material growth in the developed world."

William continues THE FIRST IS FROM,
LISTEN TO
THIS INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS
COUNCIL ON SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT IN THE
EARLY
90'S.
THEY AGREED, LOOKING AT
THE DATA, IT SEEMS THAT IN
THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD, IN
ORDER TO CREATE THE
ECOLOGICAL SPACE, TO FREE
UP FOOTPRINT IF YOU WILL,
FOR NECESSARY GROWTH IN
THE THIRD WORLD, PEOPLE
WHO ARE STARVING,
MALNOURISHED, DON'T HAVE
DECENT CLOTHING OR
HOUSING, WE NEED TO REDUCE
BY, THEY SAY 90 percent.
INDUSTRIALIZED REDUCTIONS
IN MATERIAL USE, ENERGY
USE AND WASTE PRODUCTION
OF UP TO 90 percent WILL BE
REQUIRED IN THE DEVELOPED
WORLD IN ORDER TO ENSURE A
JUSTLY AND FAIRLY
SUSTAINABLE GLOBAL
POPULATION.
JUMP AHEAD A FEW YEARS.
THE TYNDALL CENTRE FOR
CLIMATE CHANGE, IS ONE OF
THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO
CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH,
JUST BEFORE THE IPCC STUDY
CAME OUT, THEY PUBLISHED
THEIR OWN STUDY.
TO AVOID A POTENTIALLY
CATASTROPHIC MEAN
GLOBAL
TEMPERATURE INCREASE
ABOVE
TWO DEGREES CELSIUS,
THAT'S
THE SCENARIO OF THE
REPORT
WE WERE LOOKING AT
EARLIER,
THE STERN REPORT, THE
WORLD
MUST REDUCE CARBON
EMISSIONS
BY 90 percent BY 2050.
THAT MEANS GETTING OFF OUR
FOSSIL FUELS.
FOSSIL FUELS ARE THE MEANS
BY WHICH WE CONSUME
EVERYTHING ELSE.
SO THESE ARE CONSISTENT
KINDS OF RESULTS.
AND IT TURNS OUT, YOU CAN
READ A BOOK CALLED
FACTOR FOUR.
FACTOR FOUR,
THAT'S THE TITLE, SHOWS
ABOUT 60 TECHNOLOGIES, IF
APPLIED WOULD REDUCE OUR
ENERGY AND MATERIAL
CONSUMPTION IN MANY
RESPECTS IN VAST AREAS OF
OUR ECONOMY BY 75 percent.
WE'RE PRACTICALLY DOWN TO
THE LEVEL OF FOOTPRINT
THAT IS SUSTAINABLE.
WE DON'T APPLY THOSE
TECHNOLOGIES BECAUSE
THEY'RE A LITTLE MORE
COSTLY OR THEY REQUIRE
THAT WE SHIFT THE WAYS OF
DOING THINGS AND SO ON BUT
THEY'RE AVAILABLE.
A SIMPLE EXAMPLE, I HAVE
TO SAY I HAVEN'T DONE THE
LIFECYCLE ANALYSIS, HOW
MANY OF USE COMPACT
FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS?
THERE'S A SIMPLE SHIFT
THAT DOESN'T CHANGE THE
QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE AT
ALL.
NOW THE LIGHT QUALITY FROM
A COMPACT FLUORESCENT, YOU
CAN CHOOSE FROM MANY
NUMBER OF LIGHT QUALITIES.
YOU GET THE SAME LIGHT
INTENSITY, THE SAME
ABILITY TO REACH FOR ONE
QUARTER OF THE ENERGY
CONSUMPTION.
THERE'S YOUR 75 percent
REDUCTION, NO CHANGE IN
LIFESTYLE, SIMPLE SHIFT IN
TECHNOLOGY.
COSTS MORE, MOST PEOPLE
WON'T DO IT.
BUT IF EVERYBODY DID IT,
THE PRICE WOULD DROP LIKE
A ROCK AND YOU COULD BUY
THESE THINGS FOR A NICKEL
AT YOUR CORNER STORE.
SO WE HAVE THE POTENTIAL
PEOPLE OF MAKING THE
CHANGES NECESSARY, IN MANY
DIMENSIONS, WITHOUT
DESTROYING THE LIFE WE'VE
ALL COME TO ENJOY, KEEPING
IN MIND, WE DON'T HAVE TO
HAVE AS MUCH STUFF AS WE
HAVE TO BE HAPPY.
WE'RE NOT AS HAPPY AS WE
WERE 50 YEARS AGO WHEN
INCOMES WERE ABOUT HALF TO
A THIRD OF WHAT THEY ARE
TODAY.

A slide reads "The 'city' as a complete human ecosystem."

William continues THE CITY HAS TO BE THOUGHT
OF AS A COMPLETE HUMAN
ECOSYSTEM.
WE DON'T DO THIS RIGHT
NOW.
WE HAVE A 19TH CENTURY
CONSTITUTION.
HERE IS A COUNTRY IN
THE
21ST CENTURY WHERE 80 percent
OF
THE PEOPLE LIVE IN
CITIES.
WE ARE ONE OF THE MOST
DENSELY URBANIZED
COUNTRIES ON THE EARTH.
AND YET CITIES AREN'T EVEN
IN THE CANADIAN
CONSTITUTION BECAUSE WHEN
IT WAS DEVELOPED, THERE
WEREN'T ANY CITIES OF
NOTE.
SO HOW CAN WE GOVERN A
PLACE WITH A CONSTITUTION
THAT DOESN'T ACKNOWLEDGE
CITIES WHERE MOST PEOPLE
ARE?
MOST OF THE WASTE, MOST OF
THE CONSUMPTION TAKES
PLACE IN CITIES THAT HAVE
ALMOST NO POLITICAL
CONTROL OVER THE POLICIES
THAT DETERMINE THE NATURE
OF THE WHOLE PRODUCTION
AND CONSUMPTION PROCESS.
I HAVE TO ASK SERIOUSLY
WHETHER PROVINCES HAVEN'T
BECOME OBSOLETE.
I CAN SEE A FUTURE
EMERGING, IF WE REALLY GOT
SENSIBLE ABOUT WHAT WE
NEED TO DO HERE, IT MIGHT
BE THAT SINCE 99 PLUS
PERCENT OF THE LAND THAT
IS REALLY PART OF THE
HUMAN ECOSYSTEM, SHOULD BE
CONSOLIDATED IN THE
VICINITY OF THE CITY SO WE
BECOME MORE SELF RELIANT
THEN MAYBE THE FUTURE
BECOMES URBAN CENTRED CITY
STATES WHERE THE CITY
GOVERNANCE IS OVER THE
WHOLE AREA INCLUDING MOST
OF THE ECOFOOTPRINT NEEDED
TO SUSTAIN CURRENT LEVELS
OF CONSUMPTION WITHIN THE
CITY.
SO A CITY AS ECOSYSTEM
REALLY WOULD BE AN URBAN
REGION COMPRISING BOTH THE
BUILT UP CORE, THE NODE OF
CONSUMPTION, PLUS IN ITS
SURROUNDINGS, ITS
HINTERLANDS, AN OLD IDEA
FROM GEOGRAPHY, THE BUILT
UP AREA, RATHER THE
PRODUCTIVITY AREA NEEDED
TO SUSTAIN ACTIVITIES IN
THE CITY.
WHEN I WAS A KID, I GREW
UP ON A FARM, WE DID
EVERYTHING, WE MADE
EVERYTHING.
WE WERE SELF RELIANT AND
PROUD OF IT.
EVER SINCE THEN WE'VE BEEN
TRAINED TO THINK SELF
RELIANT OR SELF SUFFICIENT
IS STUPID AND IT'S MUCH
BETTER TO BE DEPENDANT
BECAUSE IT'S MORE
EFFICIENT.
THE WHOLE OF THE GLOBAL
ECONOMY IS BASED ON AN
EFFICIENCY CRITERION THAT
UNDERCUTS CAPACITY TO BE
SELF RELIANT.

A slide reads "The ultimate goals."

William continues WE WANT TO FACILITATE,
DO
EVERYTHING WE CAN, TO
REDUCE
OUR ECOLOGICAL
FOOTPRINTS TO
ABOUT 1.8 HECTARES PER
CAPITA.
BY THE WAY, THAT NUMBER IS
SHRINKING EVERY YEAR AS
NUMBERS INCREASE AND THE
LAND BASE DECREASES.
MORE PEOPLE LESS AVAILABLE
FOR EACH OF US.
THE REGIONAL ECOCITY,
HERE'S A QUOTE FROM 1986,
NOW ECOCITY, REGIONAL, MY
STUFF, BUT VAN DER RYN AND
CALTHORPE HAVE SAID,
RATHER THAN BEING
MERELY THE
SITE OF CONSUMPTION
WHICH IS
WHAT A CITY IS TODAY,
THROUGH ITS DESIGN,
DESIGN
I'M TALKING ABOUT
URBAN
CENTRED CITY STATE, IT
SHOULD PRODUCE ITS OWN
FOOD
AND ENERGY AS WELL AS
BECOME
THE LOCUS OF WORK FOR
ITS
RESIDENTS.
SO FOLLOWING THIS LOGIC
THEN URBAN CITIES WOULD
GRADUALLY BECOME LESS OF A
BURDEN ON, AND MORE OF A
CONTRIBUTOR TO, THE LIFE
SUPPORT FUNCTIONS OF THE
ECOSPHERE.
NOW I THINK THIS WORKS IN
THE CONTEXT THAT WE'VE
BEEN TALKING ABOUT.
THIS MAKES SENSE.
UNFORTUNATELY IT FLIES IN
THE FACE OF EVERY SINGLE
THING WE'RE DOING TODAY.
THE WORLD TRADE
ORGANIZATION, THE IDEA OF
GLOBALIZATION AND
INCREASING
INTERDEPENDENCY, AND THAT
MAKES ME FEEL SAD.
IT ALSO BRINGS ME TO THE
END OF MY PRESENTATION.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

[Audience clapping]

The clip ends, and Andrew Moodie reappears in the studio with a caption that reads his name.

He says NOW AS
AN ACTOR AND A WRITER, I
LOVE THE IDEA OF CREATING
NEW MYTHS TO REVOLUTIONIZE
THE WAY THAT WE RELATE TO
THE ENVIRONMENT.
ONE CAN ONLY HOPE THAT PEOPLE WILL
LISTEN AND APPRECIATE
THESE NEW NARRATIVES.
IT'S TERRIFYING TO THINK
THAT 21 percent OF OUR ARABLE
CROPLAND IS GONE AND 38 percent
OF THE PLANET'S CROPLAND
IS IN DECAY.
THE IDEA OF PAYING REAL
PRICE FOR THE FOOD WE EAT
AND THE ENERGY WE USE
SOUNDS JUST AND NECESSARY.
HOW ELSE CAN WE BE MADE TO
ECONOMIZE?
BUT WHAT EFFECTS WOULD
THAT HAVE ON THE POOR?
AFTER ALL, AS REES POINTS
OUT, EVERYTHING IS
INTERCONNECTED.
I'M PERSUADED THAT WE MUST
DO ALL WE CAN TO REDUCE
OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
AND I WILL DO MY BIT, I
SWEAR, RIGHT AFTER I
FINISH MY BLOOD ORANGE.
YOUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
WILL NOT IN ANY WAY
INCREASE IF YOU SEND US AN EMAIL...

A caption reads bigideas@tvo.org;

Andrew continues
TO REQUEST UPDATES ON WHAT'S
COMING UP ON OUR NEXT
PROGRAM, BUT ONLY IF YOU
PROMISE NOT TO PRINT IT OUT.
FOR BIG IDEAS, I'M ANDREW MOODIE.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2007, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: William Rees