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Ecological Footprint – Traffic Ahead


Ecological Footprint – Traffic Ahead
Michael Straley

Have you ever looked in a full elevator from the outside and stepped forward thinking, “Yeah, they can fit one more?” Normally, the reaction of the existing travelers to this contraption aren’t as excited about the proposition, but my estimate is that 30% or so of the joyful optimists, say “Sure, we can fit one more”. This personal ecological footprint paper will examine my personal footprint along with the discussion of how many “one mores” we can “safely” absorb with our/my current consumption pattern(s). The assessment will involve the three popular footprint calculators and my personal tabular results from one of them.

The introspection portion of this paper will involve my own behavior analysis augmented by external references reflecting on our collective existence and connection to the earth. The summary will be inspirational for the possibilities and improvements we can make to create ample space in the elevator. Going Up!
The Michael Straley ecological footprint scores are posted! Let the reflection begin. With grades of 6.61, 1.6, and 6.6, that would be an average of 4.9 planet earths required for my existence. The detailed results below are from the Center for Sustainable Economy footprint calculator utilizing My FootPrint Calculator
(in global acres)

ecological_footprint Footprint
Country Average
Carbon Footprint
Food Footprint
Housing Footprint
Goods and Services Footprint
My total footprint

(in global acres)
Country Average
Cropland footprint
Pastureland footprint
Marine fisheries footprint
Forestland footprint
My total footprint

Number of Earths

My 6.61 earths could be a sign or badge of wealth and accomplishment for being above average, being prosperous, being able to afford food, services, travel and energy enough to provide comfort and luxury in excess of the demarcation line of existence and survival. Whether that comfort creates happiness, joy, and health is outside the scope of this paper, however it does lead back to the analogy of the elevator and an updated question; with that score, is there room for one more? Given humanity’s average of 1.4 planet Earths (Global Footprint Network, 2011), the answer is, “the elevator is getting packed full!” The risk of an overloaded elevator includes inability of effective operation, getting stuck, and even worse, the cable breaking. Even if it isn’t as dramatic as the crash to the ground, as in the movies, the point is clear, read and obey the capacity rating on the elevator.


We are intelligent humans, if we have a capacity problem, simple answer, we create more capacity! To determine our success with this strategy, we recall upon history and history reveals a pattern: We create new technologies only to discover that they lead to health complications. Then we solve the problem with science. Additionally, we have a tendency to find out much too late that modern living is also killing us. (Young & Dhanda, 2013). The $64,000 question is always, “is it different this time?” With the world population expected to double in the next 58 years (Pimentel & Pimentel, 2008), we can no longer expect the other person to change their behavior to fix the problem.

Knowing the footprint averages, my surprise was largely found in how many aspects of my life had impact on my ecological footprint. I found the Earth Day website to be the most conducive to these what-if scenarios. I simulated a dramatic lifestyle change which included moving my avatar wife into a 1500 sqft. home, reducing my commute to a minimum, buying a car with 40+ MPG, utilizing public transportation, cutting all meat out of my diet, buying local produce, vacationing local, recycling everything, buying recycled products and installing a solar generator. I thought this would yield a below 1.0 planet earths, but much to my dismay, we only made it to 3.1. We subsequently moved myself and my avatar wife to India and were able to accomplish 0.4 planet earths. After much joy and celebrations over our footprint reduction, we began missing our children and family and were spending so much on airfare, we decided to move closer and chose Calgary, Canada. We set up home in a minimalist manner and were able to accomplish 5.8 hectares or converted equates to 3.2 planet earths. Much to our dismay our footprint was not much less than minimalist setup in Virginia, so we decided to move back. Upon looking at the footprint percentage breakdown metrics, the high land/energy component suggests the abundance of land and energy availability to the American and Canadian citizen creates a default high basis to the footprint reading. Based on those simulations, there must be an inherent population density parameter built into the algorithm. With that noted, that compels an intensified probe into what we can accomplish on an individual level.

Technology and advancements worldwide are being seen in areas such as renewable energy, physicians per capita, and energy efficiency, but depletions are being seen in forest areas, greenhouse-gas emissions, and increases in ecological footprints (Docksai, 2014). The biggest obstacles I see to improving these sustainability depletions involve “Time and Pace”. Seeking convenience is largely driven by desire to save time due to our hectic pace.avaiary1 I have found that if I slow down, I actually consume less, spend more time improving what I already have, and spend more time on sustainability rather than consumption. Realizing that I have more acreage footprint available to me in America, I can utilize that footprint by improvements in gardening, solar strategies, and other life enhancing sustainable behavior changes.  4028284391_31cb7f39d3_z
Before I can make those larger steps, I need to alter my built in “productivity” equation and engage a mindset of a “sustainability” equation. As I changed my mindset through the duration of the REALTOR® University RE590 LEED Design, Construction, and Sustainability class, my behaviors began to change and contagiously affect the behaviors of others around me. One example just yesterday involved my daughter holding up a water bottle and said, “Dad, look I refilled it.” Other obvious measurable differences included my recycling canister being more full than the trash canister. The purchase of my beloved paper towels has recently been replaced by washable kitchen towels. Our favorite change has been that our throw away coffee cups are being replaced by look alike re-useable $1 plastic Starbucks cups. Sweatshirts during our cold winter are compensating for a slow reduction in household temperatures driven by a simple click-click on the thermostat. We are in the midst of many more changes triggered by a simple, yet thorough shift in mindset. I truly cannot testify as to how this will exactly change my ecological footprint, but one less of this and one less of that times 7 billion can probably make some degree of impact. This equation compels the next question; can one less car on the road prevent a traffic jam?

If the Earth Highway LED traffic sign read “Heavy Congestion 2 months ahead”, would you take an alternate route? With the ecological footprint of our population exceeding the earth’s current capacity, the traffic sign is blinking red! Unfortunately, our existence is more like this upcoming traffic jam rather than the simplistic analogy of an elevator exceeding capacity. We are all driving ahead at 70 MPH, not aware of the upcoming bottleneck and then BAMM, a screeching halt, traffic imprisonment! Even though we notice the informational warning sign, we have a hopeful disillusion that the bottleneck will be gone by the time we arrive. 2142998605_dcb3ae2a6b_oWe also tend to feel there is little we can do to change the situation; after all we are just ONE car. The challenge upon us is that self-interest is a powerful motivator and diffusing responsibility to others is a common tendency (Kish-gephart, Detert, Treviño, Baker, & Martin, 2014). To break this pattern requires a shift in mindset/awareness, a vision or a catalyst that changes individual behavior or alternatively, in the worst case, accidents, illnesses, resource depletions and tragedies to force the change (not fun!). A big picture top down view is for governments, civil societies, businesses and international organizations to support and institute sustainability (Ahmad & Ahmed, 2012). Lest we forget, those organizations are all made of humans, so another more simple paradigm that can trigger this shift is to love one another, which sparks selfless-interest. This might possibly be best relayed in poetry rather than reasoning. To read poetry, it involves a change in pace, which may be the first step to the change in place and the next to change this place. Pause, then Absorb!


“No Man is an Island”
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.  (Donne, 1624)

Ahmad, W., Soskolne, C. L., & Ahmed, T. (2012). Strategic thinking on sustainability: Challenges and sectoral roles.Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14(1), 67-83. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10668-011-9309-5
Docksai, R. (2014). Annual report card on our future. The Futurist, 48(4), 53-55. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1535042809?accountid=41020
Global Footprint Network Homepage.” Global Footprint Network. www.footprintnetwork.org
Kish-gephart, J., Detert, J., Treviño, L. K., Baker, V., & Martin, S. (2014). Situational moral disengagement: Can the effects of self-interest be mitigated? Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 267-285. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1909-6
Pimentel, D., & Pimentel, M. (2008). The future: World population and food security. In C. L. Soskolne, L. Westra, L. J. Kotze´, B. Mackey, W. E. Rees, & R. Westra (Eds.), Sustaining life on earth: environmental and human health through global governance (pp. 285–298). Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books, A Division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 482 pp.
Young, S., Dhanda, K. (2013). Sustainability: Essentials for Business, 5.

Ecological Footprint Quizzes and Calculators:

GO STRALEY GROUP says selling houses is a mission!

Life is about to GET A WHOLE LOT BETTER for the REALTOR® and the CLIENT! If we learn to embrace the unfamiliar and articulate VALUE! What is your mission?

GSG logo

The GO STRALEY GROUP Mission Statement is our truth:

We are a team of successful REALTORS, with sustained study and preparation in advance of your call.  We stand ready to deploy and craft the unique plan for your transaction that will enhance the extraordinary and mitigate the limitations.    We will celebrate with you on the sunny days and we will walk beside you on the stormy days. It is by this navigation, not just by good intention, that you will likely reach your destination.

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FATHOM REALTY Mission Statement is our truth:

Fathom Realty represents the future of the real estate brokerage. Our philosophy is that happy real estate agents provide the best service and give the most back to their clients. The best technology, training, support & commission splits in the industry!


SO IT IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL!  The public does not need or want to walk into a real estate office anymore?  Who has the time?  Why would I want to walk into an office and have to work with the duty agent?  What if I don’t like them, or they don’t understand my lifestyle?  Office environments limit choice and Internet environments expand choice! The secret formula, is CUSTOMERS LIKE CHOICE!  Fathom Realty, was awarded a badge of honor – 2014 INC 500 FASTEST GROWING REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE!

Rebecca and Michael Straley will tell you why it is good for the Client and the REALTOR®

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YOU NEED TO BE AUTHENTIC!  and you need to have the integrity to deliver what you say you will!  





Real estate just got a whole lot better!



COMMUNICATION write,talk,listen?

As I learn about blogging and receive even just a couple of replies, it reminds me that I am not alone, as I often feel I am on an island.



It also brings to mind the fear which is imposed on the ability to say the right thing –

at the right time and in the right way  There are so many interpretations of mood, inflection and

even words in both personal and business communications.


Like Slow Children!  Does that mean the children are behind at school?  Or does it mean we are to drive slow?  Does it mean there might be children present but don’t expect them to run?



Words are such a paradox.


We can’t express ourselves with them or without them many times!  Are we more civilized with words or are we more critical and therefore less civilized because of words?  Hence choose our words carefully.


Choosing words is a big part of being a successful REALTOR.  We want to be encouraging, at times, but always truthful.  To allow myself  to “get a life”  and enjoy freedom of speech I must also be mindful of how words may affect others feelings or actions.


I often make an effort to frame my opinion based on a fact, and then related to an experience.  Such as, “This home has a beautiful pool; I know several persons say it has changed their life and brought their family closer together.”   This fact is much different than stating this house is worth more if you add the cost of the pool.  This is an easy example, as we all know; a pool may actually disqualify the home from a purchasers list!

 ImageTO WR

It is also important to remember when to write and when to speak.  

Instructions from our clients should be in writing.  Such as 1) Tell the buyer why I am moving, or 2) Prepare a notice.

 However, opinions or emotions are better spoken, so inflection and body language can be evaluated such as:

 “Do you think we listed my home too high” – “I am concerned about the traffic to the commuter lot, maybe I shouldn’t buy?”


Decisions from our clients should be in writing.  1) I do not want a counter offer.  2) I will not repair the sink in the basement.


Disclosures are best conveyed in writing.  1) The airport noise is only at lunch time but we are in the flight path.


So let’s meet and chit / chat about ideas!  Which brings up  the reciprocal agreement?  Listening!!! ???


Listening is another chapter, stay tuned.  Thank you for commenting on my blog.  I am excited to include blogging into my new activities as we grow Fathom Realty Virginia