tv Worlds Apart RT August 3, 2018 12:30am-1:01am EDT
smelting species dying out and our reliance on fossil fuels on that made it isn't it too late to save our planet from environmental insolvency well to discuss that i'm now joined by matisse back or not go see all of global footprint networks mr becker mego it's good to talk to you thank you very much for your time thank you for having me it's a pleasure now we're recording this conversation on the eve of earth over should day reach this year according to your calculations falls on august first and for all what i understand this is not an occasion for celebration this far as you are concerned yeah we call as we mark earth over it's a day in the year by which we have used as much from the planet as the planet can renew need tire year and it falls on august first this year and from what i understand it's also the early is that it's been in the recent years why is that actually in tire history of humankind it's ever we've never been as large as the
population a consumption is still going up yes productivity of agriculture is going up which is mitigating it a little bit but overall demand is still exceeding what we kind of renewed more and more from for those of our viewers who have never heard about this day what exactly does it mean. so essentially the or ecological economy so accountants typically they count money we count physical things potatoes and cotton and milk and everything and and we look at the word that's a big farm and say how much of this farm is needed to regenerate everything that we use so we add up every square meter of huge for example my orange juice my potatoes my continent cetera how much area is that we call that the ecological footprint that we didn't compare with how much is available on this planet so how big is the farm called planet how big is our hunger as humanity and then we can make a balance sheet and that by marking this day on august first that it would mean that humanity will. run its credit on the particular day i'm starting from august
first it will be essentially leaving on. loan to resources it's like with money if you spend one point seven fold what you earn you know also by the by august first you would have spent your income for the year and then you started to treat your assets financially the same is true with resources so if you just look at the whole year we live off the income of nature from jan refers to august first and then the rest would come from depletion and depletion you can see by shrinking forests by accumulation of c o two and you have to miss fear etc a number of effects that it has physically the overuse i personally find this comparison of our reliance on natural resources to a bank account very compelling except for the fact that the it's a logical bankruptcy that according to you humanity may be having toll roads is a likely to come during our lifetime and in the absence of these kind of due date
what else could encourage people to be last spendthrift when it comes to nature. i mean yes and no analogies break down obviously with money you know we can go bankrupt over using and then to spend more than what we were to use the bankruptcy comes pretty quickly would money. you can print money so that's easier than with resources resources you cannot print so bankruptcy ecological is not just like an on off switch and suddenly everything is gone but it's just it's gets tighter it gets more difficult more ecosystems are depleted it's more difficult to produce food etc the time spent of the policeman is actually much shorter it's not just very distant future i mean if you look at for example the climate piece which is a big piece of the overall demand if we want to stay within two degrees celsius global warming which to paris agreement said we want to do that would mean we would need to move out of fossil fuel use before twenty fifty so that's like for thirty two year olds today they will be less than sixty five years old in two thousand and
fifteen so that's very close but i think what we know from. both personal and social psychology is that people don't tend to take things to seriously until they see immediate impact and our own lives and i know that many people in the west are concerned. about the environment but do you think that concern is enough to do anything in practice obviously the concern is not strong enough that's why we're working on helping people understand what the implications are i think i would contend your idea that people cannot deal with abstract ideas that come from switzerland for example that's where i grew up and the swiss are very worried about government debt for example so they forego present consumption for making sure we don't overspend money and money is very abstract and the swiss still do that for example is one example that i know that many areas where we do invest in the long run just with the resources we haven't really wrapped our head around it very well well switzerland is famous in my country at least for how holding
a referendum and actually voting no a referendum death with ground every citizen compulsory income of around two thousand tourists if i'm not mistaken so i think that's that's pretty am exception though i think in most countries if you put would put the two popular vote. dop measure is likely to pass with flying colors to do you really think that switzerland is is a very typical country here i think people are very similar and the word i mean to switzerland has an interesting governance system so people feel that they actually owned a state when he asked people in switzerland like who is a state they would say we are the state so they they recognised by for everybody gets money they also have to pay for that money so so that's probably why they voted but i see the same thinking across the word let's take education for example you know education is also a long term investment you can close primary schools today you wouldn't see an impact on the labor market for many years to come and still people say we can't
afford not to send children to school so so so that the ability to think long term is quite human we have that and that's what distinguishes our a species to altus or if you think of the cathedral that have been built in i don't know for over two hundred years people started to build a cathedral that never saw how it would be completed and still they put enormous efforts into building cathedrals that were been built over two hundred years so we have the ability to think ahead quite a bit let me ask you a personal question don i heard you say that you actually have quite a large footprint yourself and that if everybody leaves like you it would take about five planets to regenerate all the resources that go into making your lifestyle you know comfortable interesting worth living how do you reconcile that for yourself your professional convictions and you know if you are all my personal lifestyle speech you know we both recognize it would be unsustainable if if practiced by everybody yeah i mean the biggest part of make
a logical footprint is flying around the word and i have to reconcile with that and i want to engage with as many people as i can and i can do it and i try to get with your audience which i'm very very pleased by and that takes a lot of resources in the end the question is all these resources well spent today for example i took the bicycle for an hour to come to this t.v. stoop. i prefer to go by salon by car it's not from a moral conviction perspective particularly i think one of the big errors we make of the resource issue and sustainability is that we see it just as a moral obligation or read nice to humanity or not while in reality it's an economic necessity in countries cities and even as individuals we overuse our resource base we won't have a very secure long term long term prospect so it's a very practical matter but i guess because i'm trying to advocate for these that is a flyer that's true well not only and i don't want to make it too focused on you but
let's say people in the west who are concerned about the environment for example al gore would be one of them they also tend to have. fairly nice houses you know good air conditioning you rely on electricity or running water on all those conference of life that we have come to take for granted and we know that you know a large proportion of people on this planet do you know that have those conference and they are actually entitled to those contra comforts no last them you or me if they were to receive it do you think dad. wouldn't that be something that would essentially ruin the planet overnight. you know my commitment and also the commitment of our green zation really is for all to thrive and also recognize that we only have one planet we call it want planet prosperity because india and the one planet doesn't go away so the question really is how can we all thrive within the means of this one planet and the choice is quite easy because the one planet is a given the choice is between one planet prosperity or one planet misery and i
think one pleasant prosperity is probably a better choice so how can we get there and of course people want to have great lives i'm living in a comfortable house so yes we put photovoltaic cells on my house so we have electricity produced from the sun vantage so we can have comfortable. and also not used too many resources but it takes for side in innovation so for us all gore is concerned for example i think it's great that he moves around as much as he can to talk to people and leaders and showed it can i make risk of not addressing the resource issues that we're facing so i mean a lot of people are flying around and i think this message needs more attention because it has significant risk he wouldn't tell also protect people who talk who work on unemployment don't work because you take take take work away from others you know unemployment is so important to address it resource issues and climate change is so important we need to put all our strength into addressing it well i
guess my point here is that in many of your public appearances you stress the fact that we can maintain the current comforts of life while minimizing the environmental costs of them and you know i i think we would all would like that to happen but three i think we also need to ask and by we i mean people who leave in developed or high living standard countries whether perhaps the more the lifestyle need will have to be changed in order for the planet to be. you know not only in good shape but also you know after your place to leave because if a if you actually hold that as a bar for all the developing world it seems to me that all of the cultivation is also to point out to the fact that it is simply impossible to maintain dop lifestyle for everybody on this planet i'm personally universalist i think everybody has a right to a great good comfortable life absolutely and how can we do that while also living
within this one planet budget because that's also what we've got so that these two realities that struggle with each other how can we get there if we go to our website to with a look at for peace solution areas that make it possible for people to have trade lives. while also living within the means of one planet in their fifty's for air it's our first away build our cities if we continue to build the cities on the car model that kind of very the few cities that you do a lot of cars and have very big houses that are very inefficient and that's takes a lot of resources if we take more kind of the mediterranean model off the compact cities would well build houses where you can walk or rather eat only walk and bicycle you don't need cars you can have a higher quality of life the second area is energy if you produce energy with coal power or be produce energy would solar power makes a huge difference the fourth the third area is food that will be feed ourselves now it's harder to have reduced to many calories but we can eat less products we can we
can we can waste less food we can become more efficient in producing food etc so food is a big area too currently about half of the plants by capacity is used just for food production and the last topic which is very important as well and underplayed is how many people who we are it could double as many people there's only half as much planted per person that's got a job is obvious to see and we can also address that by increasing quality of life if we can start to invest far more in women if we if we help women to to have more opportunities the families get smaller the families get also healthier and better educated it's a total win for the next generation and also the resource constraints will be eased well at mr reckon necker we have to take a very short break now but we will be back in just a moment statement. do
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welcome back to worlds apart with medicine record that they see all of global footprint network that's a back negative just before the break we were talking about what essentially is called sustainable development you know keeping countries developing but doing it in a sustainable fashion and correct me if i'm wrong but i know that i'm wrong some ninety countries that. you are going to say she looked at you only found one country that meets the minimum criteria for sustainable development and the siskiyou but is that actually a positive finding is that something that gives you hope let me give you a bit more context so this current labor i mean look at what are the conditions for sustainable development it's very simple to actually say that because it's two
words sustainable development development means you want to have great allies the united nations measures that by. how long are your lives how high is your income and do you have access to education and they measure it as a human development index from zero to one then the higher we are the better they say the higher than zero point eight would be high development very high development on the other hand why do we say sustainable because sustainable because there's only so much planet so the question is is the lies that off the people replicable world wide how many planets would it take if everybody lived like me so we can then basically with these two conditions we can say which countries meet the criteria of high human development currently and resource demand that is replicable word wide and there are very few countries right now that are getting close to that condition cuba is close to that peru's another one that is close to that does that mean that's the goal and the word it just means already today we can show that high high longevity and income and education is possible lower. and lower
resource consumption i think you can also understand where i'm leading because as you know cuba has been for a long time a subject to the american embargoes and there forms of geopolitical geo can now make pressure which produced a mode of living that even cubans did solace want to change they have a new government that is very explicit in its intention to raise people's living standards so that development may be sustainable economic liberty is it really something that people would want to sustain i'm not saying it's sustainable i'm just saying they have a resource consumption that is replicable world wide and still with that amount of resource if achieve quite long lives and high levels of education not so high income i'm not saying they have that's kind of the overarching goal of in peru is another example what stare but i think the overall question for humanity is how can we have all high human development while still living within the means of this one
planet and there are great opportunities to move in this direction we just haven't applied. if you just have employed innovation to make that happen we use most innovation to use more to have bigger cars heavier cars bigger houses etc rather than to use it for how to live better on this planet and if we can continue on that track of just using more we undermine our ability to have great lives for everybody so it's possible that everybody could get there but i thought our goal currently for humanity but i wonder if one of the implications of the cuban example is that. the humanity can only get to that stage of sustainability when it's hard pressed when it has no other choice because you mentioned dinner as well and drew is a nice country cuba is also beautiful country but you would not necessarily call them the countries that would be you know role models father i cannot imagine americans for example are sweet trying to reform best systems to resemble those
with good rule or cuba. so this i mean that's what i'm saying that if the many other elements that be could take advantage off that would make life much even better and that i would actually end me i would love to live in a city where there are all the car dominated where i can go everywhere by bicycle where i can walk what is fresh air where there's like a lot of activity downtown actually if you look at the most attractive cities around the word these are all cities that have very compact downtown cities where people walk around and the cars are not that dominant that's where people go on tourists and they love to be in those places so it's possible to reshape cities in ways that are far more livable and far less resource consumption and that's just the energy side i mean what's possible technologically to move from coal to sorter it's incredible we just haven't taken advantage of these opportunity and it's ironic to me that you say that while joining us from the united states which has
indeed a very strong automobile culture i used to study there and it was extremely difficult for me as it passes by to get around. because you know you if you don't have a car there you basically struggle to fulfill your you know daily chores but i think that has been changing in the united states to a lot of american cities are investing in public transportation only because it became too expensive for many people to own a house called two cars so again i wonder if humanity will only change one when it is essentially trust to do that i mean they're all they're all kind of the all kind of pressures i live in california and very very privileged here also with the weather and i think people recognize here that people driven pedal driven. driven transportation is preferrable here in the bay area there's a very strong part of the population who wants to go around by bicycle and we have more and more bicycle lanes and it's not just for economic reasons people also for health reasons they like to move and be able to bicycle to work for example so
that's something that's that's happening more and more here particularly california not saying it's happening everywhere around the united states but that also when you look from the real estate perspective more and more people want to live closer to the downtown area rather to the suburbs because they can more easily move around get to restaurants walk to a movie theater etc quality of life increase as you see that from the differential in terms of real estate value are going up more where you have a high level of walkability actually one of the most important real estate criteria that exist in any state is called walkability score that people want to say wow when i kind of walk i'm also depend on cars i can age there i have a good neighborhood etc so i think it's more recognize now that the speed i would like to see but i think people start to recognize that it's possible to decouple resource demand and good lives and that's what we would need to accelerate far more and i resent the forces that moves in the other direction i mean there's the strong car industries and people really love cars but it's not compatible with the future
we want now we talked about the united states. let's turn our attention to all the countries on your website you have a calendar of the overshoe days by country speech provides for quite a perplexing reading i would say for example russia with its one hundred forty five million people huge uncultivated land reserves as well as still fairly contained industrial production is worse off than china whose population is ten times as high which is pumping out so much carbon dioxide it is hard to leave there i understand the methodology said to me and not biased against individual countries but are you sure that it is reflecting the actual environmental standing off and the given country. let me just explain to them or about what we measure this for in ways how to look at the numbers so one number is how much does it take to support an average
person in russia or an average what does it take on average to support a person that is states or in switzerland for example so that's the ecological footprint and then you can compare that with how much is available on the planet on average so that will give you a number of how many planets would it take if everybody lives like me you can also compare it with how much is available in the country itself because every country in the end is like a farm and russia for example is a very very large farm russia is one of the countries that most by capacity and all the very high population so you are actually in a situation where you're by capacity is larger than even your large ecological footprint and china is in a quite different situation it has a very large population would not as high of a per capita footprint as in russia but far less by capacity per person food takes about three china's to support china and so they are there is to feeling that resource constrained far more than for example russian is a very very fortunate cause position does that mean russia does need to be
concerned about sustainability i would say yes absolutely you are no lucky situation where you have a lot of farm per person so to say you know you have a lot of wealth ecological wealth and but the word is very scarce so that's a huge economic advantage as well and saying wow this is an amazing farm let's look after it well because that's our asset that will enable us to live well in the long run i mean mr breckon i got from what i had to stand there that the reason for having those individual country days is to encourage the local populations to be active and to do something about the the environment and when you place russia and china it's you months to have despite the fact that russia's footprint is much smaller and i think it's environmental policies are also i with my may i may be biased but i think it's more environmentally conscious than those. of china don't you think that you may be misleading local populations a little bit. we're just measuring what is i think it's like with income no it's
important to know how do much do you earn compared to how much you spend it's also important to know how much do you earn compared to what the average earns in your countries into different numbers so we provide you good physical numbers about your resource security we can compare your demand your personally amount as a footprint calculated to or he can go to and calculate your own consumption say how many plans would it take if everybody lives like you but then you can also compare it with how big is our farm it's also an impair important situation so switzerland where i'm from for example switzerland uses four times more than what ecosystems in switzerland can renew and the question for switzerland is is that a risk for switzerland the u.k. is the same as in two ation uses four times more than that you can ecosystems can renew is that a risk that's a question we need to debate because ultimately if we just say it's not just a nice thing for humanity to reduce your footprint whatever that doesn't help the point the question is is it really make an ominous s.m.t.
i believe yes if we are not resource secure that's becoming an ever more significant parameter of a long term economic success and we cannot shift that from one day to the other that's something we have to think ahead about one of the criticism of your methodology is that it essentially equates by capacity to agricultural capacity and as a result you'll protocols favor replacing natural ecosystems with more productive human managed vegetation which would naturally evolve ah there are species from from their own habitat i you sure that you know magic's are. a human body in a way because we all live on this planet. yeah i got to mention that i mean there's a lot of people who write about our method and some criticisms etc and some of the criticism is not super well informed i think i mean it's a criticism that is not totally correct but i mean people write things i mean essentially we don't say live after the footprint that's the ultimate thing we just
provide won critical measure that is to say how big of the ecosystems of on the planet or within your countries and how hungry are we so it's a quantitative approximation of how much we have how many resources we have compared to how many we use now is it super precise probably could be made more precise we just use un data sets because that's the most objective data set we have to roughly estimate how much we have and how much we use if so if you can the. areas from one used to not or it actually doesn't show changed by capacity according to our metrics we just say this is a this is a capacitor you have some people say we should use it to grow potatoes of the say we should use it to growth forests you know in the end we just say this is the size of your farm that's how much farm you have how you use it is your choice but there's a quantity of issue because quantity. overpowers quality if we use more than what there is we cannot generate quality use of ecosystems we can protect one little
area for quality and have it nice but then if you continue to consume as much you just put more pressure on the remaining part so we have to get the quantity right otherwise you can not get to quality well mr right and i still have questions of my list and my list but unfortunately i cannot pose them to you because our time is up i really appreciate you being with us today thank you very much for sharing your perspective and i encourage our viewers to keep this conversation going on our social media pages and hope to see you again same place same time here on worlds apart.
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