Living Within Limits


No matter what, we only have one Earth to live on. There is a finite limit on the amount of productivity our land and water supplies can support, as well as a limit on the amount of carbon our trees and atmosphere can absorb. Currently as a planet we are exceeding these limits by almost 50 percent, and as a country we are using  Earth’s resources 4 times faster than the planet can produce them and absorb the waste. Fortunately, now that we know the severity of our overshoot, we can begin scaling back towards sustainability.

Dream of a Nation Partner
Advancing the Science of Sustainability
Global Footprint NetworkThe Global Footprint Network’s programs are designed to influence decision makers at all levels of society and to create a critical mass of powerful institutions using the Footprint to put an end to ecological overshoot and get our economies back into balance. Learn more.

Unified in Stewardship
Dr. Jerry M. Linenger is a Naval Academy graduate holding a two doctorate degrees. In his mission on Mir, he logged 50 million miles in more than 2,000 orbits of Earth at 18,000 miles per hour. He was the first American to undock from the space station in Soyuz spacecraft and the first American to perform a spacewalk outside a foreign spacecraft.


Read the Global Footprint Network essay: "Staying Within Our Limits"
Read the Global Footprint Network essay

Read Jerry M. Linenger's essay, "Unified in Stewardship"
Read Jerry Linenger's essay

Endnotes & References


The Story of Stuff


What Can I Do?

Calculate and cut your global footprint.

Behavioral changes are a great start towards reducing the US’s global footprint. Getting a clear picture of where your biggest impacts are will help you make a plan how best to reduce them! Use the Footprint Calculator to get started.


Check out Center for a New American Dream's essay for easy steps to live lighter.


What If?

Q.  What if the U.S.’s global footprint was more like a Western European nation?

A.  Italians, for example, have a comparable quality of life as Americans. Their per capita footprint is just 60% the size of America’s, though, by living in smaller cities, driving smaller cars, and supporting their local farmers and tradesmen.