can be thought of as the basis of wealth.
How much of an acre, then, does a human require to live well?
An acre in English measure is equal
to 2.46 hectares in metric measure.
often described as the number of people or organisms per hectare or per
acre. But how many acres does a person need to live well?
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There are two ways to think about
the amount of land we need: directly and indirectly:
Where humans are most concentrated.
What are ghost acres * exactly?
Los Angeles as a case of living consuming more space than
meets the eye.
Los Angeles river, pictured here, reveals the additional needs people have
for water, electricity and highways which take up space. These additional
requirements for urban and suburban life take up even more land than the
size of the lots or acreage that people actually occupy. For instance
many people in Southern California live on a quarter of an acre. Those in
high rise apartments actually live on far less than the quarter acre a
10, 20 or 150 unit building occupies. However, if you consider the automobiles
that people need to have to get to work, the quarter acre is misleading
with respect to how much space a person requires. It is estimated that
each car in the US requires another tenth of an acre just for parking.
When every person's car is considered, approximately half of the area of
downtown Los Angeles is given over to the automotive transportation systems.
A refers to the port of San Pedro
C refers to the Palos Verdes Peninsula
H refers to the Santa Monica Mountains
K refers to the Angeles National Forest
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When using just the urban land area in the state the density
is actually quite different yielding only .295 acre per resident (on urban
or barren land).
The typical township
contains 36 square miles. Each square mile contains 640 acres.
* Ghost acres then, refer to the additional land needed
to support our intensive consumer demands for water, energy, & resources.
Author and ecologist Garrett Hardin explains that in addition to the density
of people per acre, ghost acres, are a means of determining what extent
of land in terms of farms or forests, or dumps is needed to meet the growing
human appetite for consumer goods, electricity, water, and recreational
facilities. His figure is nearly 10 acres per person composed of:
2.4 acres of Pastureland
2.6 acres of Woodland
2.2 acres of other lands (factories, house, roads)
9.1 acres total required / person
In addition to ghost acres there
are also "indisposed acres," or that land which is not available for use
due to contamination, damage, or incompatible uses.
The examples are:
Los Angeles & Groundwater (1979-81) 5% of a large
amount = a big number ppb or parts per billion of certain contaminants
"posed significant health risks" because of what was done on the land affected
the groundwater under the land;s surface.
Woodlands Township, New Jersey & landfills ( 1979)
"There is no away to throw to" Cranberry production or waste disposal became
a question of space: either keep the bogs or clean up the dump that seeped
into the cranberry bogs and contaminated the crop.
Marine Shale Processors & hazardous waste disposal
( 1984) turned to a creative or adaptive reuse of older technology: they
converted a puddling furnace for recovery of metals into a rotary lime
kiln incinerator Union Carbide of India, Ltd. (12/2/84; 23:00
One means of assuring that waste acres or indisposed land
is minimized is to audit wastes to assure that recovery, reuse, recycling
and reduction of damage allows land to be efficiently utilized.
Chemical Manufacturers Association's Community Awareness
& Emergency Response (CAER) third-party audits to implement & monitor
Responsible Care; practice mutual assistance.
How much space and fuel do we really consume?
For every one calorie of food we consume Americans expend ten or more calories of energy to get that food to our tables. Such a ratio is an example of the impact of ghost acres and unseen forces on the things we need to make our lives work. Because we consume more than we can account well for, we are unable to see, understand and manage our increasing demands for both scarce and relatively abundant resources.
Last Updated on 3-15-2000 and 6/15/2008.
By Joseph Siry
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