No Impact at All

The purpose of this post is to inform the readers with ways of how to reduce your environmental impact, while living a healthy and normal life at the same time.

I watched the movie No Impact Man, which in my opinion was actually really inspiring and astonishing, how this couple decided to change their life so radically in order not to burden the environment. As seen in the movie, they started gradually reducing all of their consumption, garbage disposal, using means of transportation and at the end they cut off even their electricity. The reason for this was to stop any kind of energy consumption that would lead to fuel gas emission as well as garbage disposal. Moreover, the movie was trying to show that even by cutting off your everyday habits which can be harmful to the environment, and even if you decline from some of the precious goods available in the market, you can still have a good life and most importantly without troubling the nature.

During this semester we discussed about many issues concerning environmentalists which apply with most of the things that this movie was about. To begin with one of the issues that this documentary brought up was about sustainability and the EF, how can we live our lives in order for the earth to sustain human presence. As we discussed during class ours overpopulation is one serious issue and in combination with the fact that we are not living based simply on what we need, but we have developed the mentality of the consumer and the more we get the more we think we need at the end of the day. Our daily lives are mostly described by abundance, everything in bigger quantities that earth can provide for us. So according to what we said up to now and what was discussed in the movie, in order not to have any environmental impact at all we will have to modify our daily schedule in order to consume only what we need, not produce any waste, recycle, stop using electricity etc. I don’t think that anyone can imagine their lives without warm water, electricity and what we consider basics for a normal life. However, a good point in the movie was that its true you can’t easily keep up with all these changes out of the blue, but what you can do is you can try and find alternative ways to replace what you had, as he replaced for example electricity with solar energy, which of course was not as efficient but provided them with enough to work on the computer for example. Furthermore, another issue brought up was the importance of the trees for the environment and for all the living things for the simple fact that they absorb carbon dioxide the substance responsible for the greenhouse effects, as well as they produce oxygen which is vital for our existence.

In my opinion, this movie is of great value and it can show what changes you can do in order to reduce your Ecological footprint, and live a more environmental aware life. I’m pretty sure that most people can’t even imagine how would their lifestyle be with all these restrictions, but as stated in the movie, most of them aren’t aware even about the impact they cause on nature. I think that Colin Beavan’s project was really innovative and moving and indeed and I believe that it already has motivated some people into living a more sustainable way of life than they used to, or make others more environmentally aware.  I really enjoyed this movie and maybe it helped me change my lifestyle towards better.


Food Distribution & Sustainability

In the following assignment i will discuss about food distribution along the globe along both from an ecological and economic perspective as well as bring forth some of the issues that arise from it.

1)      By consuming food produced far away, it will need to travel a long distance in order for it to be available to you on your local market. The cost of the transportation as well as the fuel used can create a lot of gas and waste which is exactly opposite to the economic principles that we’ve learned. Economy stands for avoiding waste, perseverance of resources and increased efficiency. We are doing the exactly opposite looking for cheap lower quality food like what Carrefour have to offer as you mentioned. According to the numbers that I have found the total cost of transporting food is extremely high and it could be avoided by reliance on locally produced goods.

2)      Pirog’s and Benjamin’s study is a really good example to support my previous statements if we take into consideration that locally produced goods saved 96% of the transportation costs. The environmental impact is less and also the food can be more fresh and of better quality. The disadvantages can be that relying solely in local productions will not provide you all of the goods that are eventually imported. However with the technological developments and the construction of greenhouses and artificial environments many goods can be produced within a society without the need to import from the other side of the earth. I believe that the disadvantages and the harm done to the earth is much bigger when importing goods from big distances rather than having them produced within your country.

3)      As we can see the past decade the price of gasoline has the tendency to rapidly increase. Taking this into account only one possible case scenario comes to my mind, the price of transporting goods will be dramatically increased having as a result an overall increase at the food’s price as well. If we assume that the price of gasoline doubles then the price of food will be boosted so much creating flaws in the economy and in the idea of importing in general.

4)      I think that these figures apply to most of the countries both developed or not, because of the fact that multinational companies have spread everywhere. This means that huge quantities of goods travel around the world being spread everywhere that there is a demand. And since some countries don’t have agriculture for example, or their food production is not enough to feed the population importing goods is a good solution, but doesn’t help sustainability at all. I base this assumption to the fact that US which is a highly developed country and with the means to produce huge quantities of food imports as well.


Ecological Footprints around the world

To begin with, Ecological footprint is what measures  the population’s consumption and demand, and compares it with the earths ability to rejuvenate. Furthermore, it shows the land’s capacity of regenerating its resources, as well as the time it needs to absorb waste and other harmful substances. We use the ecological footprint to count how many planet earth’s we would need to support all human needs if all people universally would live with the same lifestyle, consuming with the same pace.

Next, the term Overshoot deals with issues of overpopulation, for example when the population is rising really fast and exceeds the environments limit, or else it’s carrying capacity. To further elaborate, carrying capacity is the ability of the environment, or more specifically a given ecosystem to endure the population of a certain species while being able to endlessly provide food, water and generally the resources needed to ensure the species survival.

Ecological Footrpint chart

Country EF (hecters per person) Proportion relative to world average Proportion relative to world area available Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita
Colombia 1.3 0.58 0.73 6370
Sweden 7 3.13 3.93 26050
Bangladesh 0.6 0.26 0.33 1700
United Arab Emirates 9.9 4.43 5.56 12650
Thailand 1.4 0.62 0.78 7010
Mexico 2.5 1.12 1.40 8970
Australia 7.7 3.45 4.32 28260
World average 2.23 1.0 1.25  
Greece 5.4 2.42 3.03 18720
Japan 4.3 1.92 2.41 26940
Germany 4.8 2.15 2,7 27100
Morocco 0.9 0.40 0.51 3810
Brazil 2.2 0.99 1.24 7770
Personal Footprint 2.2 0.99 1.24  

Ecological Footrpint comparison

As mentioned before the EF of each country measures the average  area of land necessary to preserve the population.  Countries with a large EF cause tremendous impact on the environment, while the ones with small footprint cause less harm. Now, comparing the EF’s of Bangladesh, Australia and the United Arab Emirates we can see that Bangladesh’s Ef is extremely small (0.6). This can be explained by the fact that in order to have a large footprint you need to have abundance of resources, something that bangladesh doesnt have, affluence and the ability to exploit the resources. Moreover, Bangladesh has extremely large population (150 millions) and a relatively tiny area of land, which means that the density of the population is extremely high.

On the other hand Australia and United Arab Emirates have really high ecological footprint is also clear if we take into consideration their affluence, and their resources. Australia possesses vast areas of land, and has the ability to exploit all of it’s resources. Also high technology is another factor that leads to a high ecological footprint, because technological advancement is responsible for the improvement of social structures, means of transportation etc. moreover, the United Arab Emirates(9.9), possess large quantities of oil which is their primary resource, earning them tremendous amounts of money.

 

Does Gdp affects Ef’s?

Taking into consideration the information given on the chart, the Ef of a country and it’s Gdp usually have a positive relation. The higher the Gdp of a country, the higher their ecological footprint. Well the Gdp of a country reflects the total value of all market goods produced and services offered. In order to create more hospitals for example, and produce more goods a country needs to have affluence, advanced industry etc. which are all factors affecting the ecological footprint as well.

My personal Ef

My personal Ecological footrpint is 2.2 which is slightly lower than the worlds average and less than half compared to my country Greece (5.4) which is actually an astonishing difference. Well however in comparison with Bangladesh (0.6) it feels terrible seeing such a huge difference among our Ecological footprints considering that my own EF is 4 times bigger than an average citizen of Bangladesh. However, in comparison with the united Arab emirates(9.9) and Australia(7.7), my EF seems ridiculously low. To conclude with, if everyone was living my lifestyle then we would need 2.2 earths which almost the same with today’s world average Ecological footprint.


 


Environmental Justice in my place

In my place, Ioannina environmental issues are not taken seriously. You can see garbage all around the place, on the streets, on the parks and the pavement. It is evident that the people living there do not care as much as they should, and the government encourages this position.
It is a matter of fact that, if the authorities would like a cleaner city, then we would have it. It was stated that the government encourages this stance because, all the waste from the city’s main drainage are dumped to the lake. It is common sense to understand that the lake’s water is not going anywhere, its static and by polluting it you only destroy your ecosystem, and your surrounding nature.

Now, at this point that we’ve reached, the smell of the lake is unbearable some times, and you can see dead fish and many other elements in

dicating eutrophication, like the intense greening of the water, and a green slimy floating material.

In my opinion governmental decisions like polluting the lake, are really arbitrary and damaging for everyone living on this certain area. We have to understand that a big part of the rainfall in my city comes from the waters of the lake, by having a noxious lake; we are apparently going to have, acid rain, pollution of the underwater resources etc. Furthermore, ignorance is keeping people from acting, they are now used to this, its given for them that the lake smells and fish occasionally die, so when

they see floating fish, no harm done, its casual.

To conclude with, this kind of environmental harassment, is a usual phenomena in Greece, you can see it on our streets, everywhere even on the countryside. Another significant issue is the governmental attempt to build something a disposal center at Keratea. Despite of the citizens refusing to accept this, the authorities are sending armed forces to suppress the locals. This is an issue of complete injustice both social and environmental, and this partially proves us the inability of our country to develop, and the incompetence of the authorities.

 


Plant Ecologist Hypothesis

In order to test such a hypothesis an experiment has to be done. The enactment of fires in forests is actually really difficult and dangerous if not impossible, however due to the frequency of fires in forest here in Greece we can have the possibility to study these areas and examine the soil, carbon remnants, and generally the effects on the landscape. Taking examples from different areas that have all suffered from fire, may lead us into finding some answers, maybe enlightening or maybe not.

On the given example, studying other burned areas will actually lead you to the conclusion that frequent fires tend to totally obliterate the tree population while replacing it by grass. According to some experiments done by the University of Minnesota, the experiment 133 which was carried out in a more productive forest-grassland continuum at Cedar Creek, found that 32 years of different fire frequencies showed in a shift from 90% dominance by trees to 80% dominance by grasses with increasing fire frequency, accompanied by large changes in nitrogen cycling and vegetation composition (Reich et al 2001). The results of the experiment may vary from location to location, however similarities will surely exist.


ENVIORONMENTAL SCIENTIST vs. ECOLOGIST vs. ENVIRONMENTALST

Environmental Science is an academic field which consolidates other sciences such as biology,physics, chemistry and focuses them onto the environment. Furthermore, another aspect of environmental science focuses on the solution of environmental issues. Confusing ecology with environmental science is a common, mistake, the difference however, is in the fact that ecology is the study of organisms and their interactions with each other. Moreover, ecology derives from the greek word ”οικολογία” and its primary field of study are the ecosystems along with everything within them. It is worth to mention that ecology is more like a subgroup of environmental science.
On the other hand, Environmentalism is more like a social movement concerning the preservation and enchantment of our natural environment as well as natural resources. The major difference between environmentalism with the other two terms is that the last one is more like a philosophy, free from the scientific barriers that the other two have.
In order to be called any of the three you have to fulfill some requirements that defines them. In order to be an environmental scientist you have to have studied on certain scientific fields (physics,chemistry,biology etc.), while in order to be ecologist you have to be described by activism as well as having the interest into studying the environment. However in order to be an environmentalist you have to care about the environment, how to protect it, and by saying protecting meaning how will you play your part in it, how will you live your life.
For me if it was to be called any of these three i would rather be called an environmental scientist.


Profile Information

Hello, my name is Fivos and i’am studying International Relationships & diplomacy at the American College of Thessaloniki. This is my second year attending the college, 4th semester. This blog has been created in order for an active interaction in the class and the publication of my assignments.
An interesting topic that would be interesting to discuss in an upcoming session could be the issue of deforestation and the huge impact that it has on the globe. From all the environmental issues that i have heard throughout the past year, i’ve been mainly informed on global warming through the ”Inconvenient Truth” documentary.

I am from Ioannina, the largest and capital city of Epirus. The city has been built on the western shore of lake Pamvotis. The city’s located 500 meters above sea level, and due to its location in greece, surrounded by mountains, ioannina is considered to be the most wet city of greece.

One significant area next to ioannina is Papingo, renown for its lakes and its picturesque landscape.