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The purpose of this blog entry is to explain to the readers the causes and the effects the human population growth has on the environment.

The current number of humans existing on the Earth is around 6.9 billon. Scientists predict that the population will reach 7 billion in 2011.

The human population is accelerating as a very fast rate . It is growing exponentially and therefore the problem scientists face is determining when the Earth will reach its carrying capacity. According to the current human population graph, it has been predicted and calculated that even by 2025 the population of the Earth is going to continue growing at an amazing speed.

Human population's exponential growth (Source 6)

There are several causes which contribute to the increase of the human population over the last century. Technological advances, better health systems and sanitation, increased food production are some of the reasons why there are so many people on Earth today. In general, better and modernized lifestyle allowed humans to spread rapidly.

 Different theories regarding the Earth’s sustainability – Cornucopians vs. Cassandras

Regarding the human population growth, the Cornucopians believe that the human population, because of its technological advances will be able to overcome any hardship in the future. They also state that humans will never run out of resources because the more human there are on Earth the more they will be to utilize and acquire those very resources.

On the other hand, the Casandras also know as the “Doomsayers” predict that the Earth will not be able to sustain the human population growth for much longer. They state that the Earth can only support so many people and there are only so many resources available. They predict famine and and source depletion, which cannot be replaced in the future.

In our opinion, current society has a very serious problem. The human population’s exponential growth is causing many short – term and long – term problems for both the future and the present generations. Our stand on this issue is a balance between the views of the Cornucopians and the Casandras. We believe that in order to fix this problem we should work on reaching the Earth’s carrying capacity as soon as possible. However, we also believe that if our technology is used accordingly and if the resources are distributed equally we will be able to overcome this looming problem. (2)

Paul Ehlich

Paul Ehrlich (Source 1)

Paul Ehrlich (born 1932) is American biologist and professor atStanfordUniversity. He is also an entomologist who specializes in studies of butterflies. However he is more famous for releasing the controversial book “Population Bomb” in 1968.

Ehrlich’s predicted that rapid growth of human population will result in famine and a substantial increase in the global death rate.

Part of his predictions came true, seeing as how even in today’s world the continent ofAfricasuffered greatly from famine, malnourishment and impressive mortality rate. Moreover, the population has been growing even faster that Ehrlich had predicted. However some of his predictions didn’t come true. He predicted that some countries such asIndiaandBangladeshwill suffer from famine the most, however over the past few years their harvest has doubled and tripled. (1, 2, 3)

The IPAT Model

 I = P x A x T

 The IPAT equation describes the contribution of multiple factors to the human impact on the environment. Factors include:

  1. Population (P)
  2. Affluence (A)
  3. Technology (T).

Sometimes, sensitivity factor (S) is added to the equation so as to present the sensitivity of a given environment to the human impact. (2)

IPAT model applied in different countries

In today’s world, the rates of annual growth of the population vary from country to country. At this moment, the 2 leading countries in terms of the IPAT model areUSAandChina.

 USA (307,006,550 people)

In theUSA, the 2 dominant factors which contribute to its impact on the environment are the affluence and the technology. Scientists came to an amazing statistic which states that if the world consumed as much food as the American, Canadian, and Australian there would be only enough sources to feed 2.5 billion people. This fact This fact tells us a lot about the great impact theUSand its citizens have on the environment today.

China (1,332,460,000 people) 

In China, all 3 factors of the IPAT model (population, affluence, and technology) have impact on the environment.Chinahas the largest population on Earth and therefore they needed to solve the problem of rapid population increase in order to be able t feed and place its citizens. They introduced the controversial one child policy in 1978 which prevented the birth of millions of Chinese babies per year since. However,Chinastill hasn’t solved its problem of the large population’s influence on the environment.

Serbia (7,319,712 people)

 In our country, the mortality rate is higher than the natality rate. Therefore, the issueSerbianeeds to overcome is to increase the birth rate and decrease the mortality rate. It is a very important problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible because the nation’s population is decreasing more and more every year unless some drastic measures are taken. Additionally,Serbiais a developing country whose level of technological advancement is very low and whose citizens are not using the sources available adequately or equally.

 

 Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling (Source 5)


 

Hans Rosling (born 1948) is a Swedish medical doctor, statistician, professor, and public speaker. He has given many speeches and presentations around the world on issues such as economic development, agriculture, poverty and health in Africa, Asia, andLatin America. He uses a specific software called Trendalyzer to present today’s world situation in terms of population growth and famine.

The statement from his speech that impressed us the most was the explanation that all countries progress and expand in the same way in terms of both the economic and population growth. TheUSAbeing the country that is furthest ahead of most countries but the ones left behind such asIndia,China,Mexico, andBrazilare rapidly catching up. (4)

My partner in this assignment was Dina from the other group.

Sources:

1. Tackles Cultural Evolution. “Population Bomb” (Dec 3, 2008). Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/03/ehrlich_qa

2. Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. Fourth Ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

3. Wikipedia. “Paul Ehrlich”. Retreived May 7th, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_R._Ehrlich

4. Wikipedia. “Hans Rosling”. Retreived May 7th, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Rosling

5. Growth Through Technology. “Technology in Business Conference” (2007). Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://www.itcork.ie/index.cfm/page/gallery?rigId=17

6. Earth Orbit. “The national Conversation on Alternative Energy” (Oct 18, 2010). Retrieved May 7th, 2011  from http://savingtheearth.net/earthorbit/

EF, GDP, and GPI

The purpose of this post is to show how Ecological footprint (EF), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) are connected between each other and how these indicators have been changing and increasing throughout the years due to  various reasons.

Ecological Footprint (EF) is an amount of human demand on Earth’s ecosystems. EF number shows us the amount of productive land and water which are required for the humankind’s consumption in order to produce energy and natural resources and to absorb the waste humans create. Leaving no ecological footprint would mean that humans gives back to the environment just as much as he’s taking.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the market value of all final goods and services produced in a country per year. GDP is an indicator which presents the standard of living of a given country.

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is an indicator used in order to measure the economic growth of a given country. GPI makes difference between desirable and undesirable costs which better guide to citizens’ welfare.

GDP and GPI differ from each other, because in each of them different components are used for calculations. GDP measures what is produced, but ignores what is required for creating specific production. Under GDP, high crime rates, all the workers’ hours spent at their desks, and environmental damage are all good for economy.

On the other hand, GPI has a point of view from which the economic activity is measured as an impact on the individual and on the society. Under GPI, low crime rates, pursuing amateur interests, and low EF are evaluated and beneficial for the economy.

The GPI is considered more “green” than the GDP because GDP increases with the increase of the pollution and the depletion of natural capital rates. In other words, the damages humans make in the environment benefit the GDP. On the other hand, GPI adjusts certain factors in order to measure the poulation’s economic growth. For instance, GPI subtracts the environmental costs, which makes the GPI more “green” that the GDP.

Picture 1: GDP vs. GPI (Source 5)

The following graph shows the change of GDP and GPI in the USA between 1950 and 2004.

Graph 1: The change of GDP and GPA in the USA (1)

Next graph shows the components of GDP and GPI and how both of these indicators are calculated.

Graph 2: Components of GDP and GPI (1)

Following table shows us some calculations of GDP, GPI, and their components in the USA from 1950 until 2004. In the text, which is right after the table, the numbers of the cells in the table are explained.

Component of GPI US total in 1950(trillion of dollars) Per capita in 1950(thousands of dollars) US total in 2004(trillion of dollars) Per capita in 2004(thousands of dollars)
GDP

1.153

7.572

7.589

25.902

Benefits

1.041

6.836

4.746

16.198

Environmental costs

0.407

2.672

3.990

13.618

Social and economic costs

0.476

3.126

3.926

13.400

GPI

1.311

8.610

4.419

14.082

Comparison of GDP and GPI in 1950 and in 2004 and what can be seen from it.

The GDP was 3.42 times greater in 2004 than in 1950. The GPI increased 1.635 times between 1950 and 2004. Both GDP and GPI have increased throughout the years.

As it can be seen from above, GDP is almost twice the GPI. One of the factors which contributed to this result is the deduction of environmental, social and economic costs from the sum of GPI and benefits costs when calculating the GPI. As it is shown and calculated from the table data, the GDP increase tells us that population (per capita) is spending more money. However, according to the GPI the population didn’t live much better between 1950 and 2004 even though more money was spent in 2004 than in 1950.

The increase of benefits, environmental, and social and economic costs and how it influences the overall trend between the GDP and the GPI.

Between 1950 and 2004, benefits increased by 2.369 times, environmental costs by 5.096 times, and social and economic costs by 4.286 times.

These results indicate that benefits costs have increased the least, and that environmental costs have increased the most. These facts have changed the results throughout the years. In order to calculate the GPI, we were supposed to sum up the GDP and benefits costs, and afterwards to subtract environmental and social and economic costs from that number. Since the smallest change (benefit costs) is added to the GDP and 2 greater changes were subtracted from this number (environmental and social and economic costs), GPI is not increasing as fast as the GDP is – it is more or less similar throughout the years.

The component which has gotten the worst over the years is the environmental costs. This fact shows us how humans are not paying attention to the nature and the environment. People are working hard so as to earn for leaving not realizing how they’ve been destroying the world around them. This led to the point where humans are spending much more money now than before, but their life standard didn’t improve much since 1950.

The factors which contribute to the difference between biocentric worldview’s and anthropocentric worldview’s GPI.

In my opinion, a person with anthropocentric worldview would have higher GPI than the person with biocentric worldview. A person with anthropocentric worldview would ignore the costs created by the human interaction with the nature, which directly influences the environmental costs – this component wouldn’t even exist. On the other hand, a person with biocentric worldview would be much more concerned about the nature and environment, which influences the GPI as well.

For all these reasons, it is more likely for a person with anthropocentric worldview to have higher GPI in 2005.

Values of my own the benefits, environmental costs, and social and economic costs comparing to the ones in the table and how should I improve them.

I believe that my own values of benefits, environmental costs, and social and economic costs are not far away from the ones given in the table. However, I would probably contribute to the benefits since I’ve been volunteering many times and I plan to volunteer in the future. I also think that I don’t produce high social costs. On the other hand, my EF (2.27) shows that I’m not behaving well towards the nature and the environment.

In order to help improve these trends in my own personal accounting, I would decrease my EF as much as possible by behaving differently and by changing my habits which contribute to the rise of EF components. Furthermore, I would do even more volunteer work and I would decrease the size of the household I have so as to increase the benefits cost and contribute to the GPI.

I’ve included the following video so as to rise the awareness of how we destroy our priceless planet everyday and how by doing so we enlarge our EF.

What Will You Do to Change the World?

Source 6

References:

1. Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. Fourth Ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

2. Cobb W. C. and John B. Cobb, Jr. (2000). What’s wrong with the GDP? Retrieved on April 30, 2011 from <http://dieoff.org/page11.htm>

3. Investopedia. Genuine Progress Indicator – GPI. Retrieved on April 30, 2011 from <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gpi.asp>

4. CIA: Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Retrieved on April 29, 2011 from <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/notesanddefs.html#G>

5.  Willard, B. (march 8, 2011). Five Reasons Why a GPI Should Replace GDP. Retrieved on April 29, 2011 from <http://sustainabilityadvantage.com/2011/03/08/5-reasons-why-a-gpi-should-replace-the-gdp/>

6. BBC. “What will You do to change the world?” (Oct 7, 2010). Retrieved on April 30, 2011 from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6fXvCcY9rw>

In my opinion, this assignment has several purposes. Firstly, it is a challenge for students since majority of the students most probably has never had an assignment like this before. Second of all, this assignment is a unique way to get students in groups and force them to create a test as they want it to be. Moreover, I found this as an interesting and intriguing way by which we learn the material from this course. In addition to this, our professor may get some new ideas and I think he’ll be able to se our way of thinking and point of view. He is able to hear our voice and hopefully use it as a positive or negative critique in the future.

Chapter 1 – Introduction to Environmental Science

This chapter deals with the importance of the natural resources and ecosystem services to or lives as well as understanding the term environment as well as the field of the environmental science. On the other hand, the chapter also addresses the issue of sustainability and sustainable development while at the same time appreciating the importance and the understanding of applying the scientific method.


1. What assumption does the scientific method not rely on?

  1. the universe works according to natural laws that don’t change regardless of the time or place
  2. the responsibility of humans and the effects they cause on the natural environment
  3. all events are created from a particular cause which create other events
  4. the use of senses and reasoning in order to detect and describe natural processes

2. Which of the following disciplines is not a contributory field for environmental science?

  1. political science
  2. oceanography
  3. engineering
  4. architecture

3. Choose the incorrect factor of the destruction of productive cropland:

  1. climate change
  2. chemical fertilizers
  3. erosion
  4. poorly managed irrigation

4. Which phenomena caused the increase of population size?

  1. agricultural and industrial revolution
  2. resource consumption
  3. exploration of new environments
  4. different perceptions of environmental problems

5.  Which is the first step a scientist would take when conducting the scientific method?

  1. Hypothesis
  2. Questions
  3. Observations
  4. Predictions

6. Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary pursuit. True or False? (True)

7. Environmental Science is the same as Environmentalism. True or False? (False)

8. Match the definition with corresponding term:


Pursuit of knowledge about the workings of the environment and the human interaction with it. Environmentalism
An experiment in which the scientists observe how the independent variable varies naturally. Environmental Science
Potential for long – term maintenance due to social, economic, and environmental causes. Natural Experiment
Social movement concerned with the protection of the natural world. Manipulative Experiment
An experiment in which the scientist consciously chooses and controls the independent variable. Sustainability

9. Explain the size of Kuwait’s Ecological Footprint in comparison to its annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product).


Kuwait's Ecological Footprint (Source 1)

Kuwait's GDP per capita (Source 1)

Kuwait's GDP per capita (Source 1)

10. Describe the causes and the effects of the deforestation of Easter Island. Support your argument by giving your personal interpretation of the issue and your opinion.

Chapter 2: Matter, Energy and Geology

In this chapter we learn the fundamentals of matter and chemistry while at the same time applying them to real world situations. We also learn the different types and forms of energy as well as the essentials of energy flow. We learn how to differentiate between photosynthesis and chemosynthesis. This chapter also includes the topic of plate tectonics and the rock cycle also addressing major types of geological hazards and ways to avoid their impacts.


1. Which one of the following is NOT a component of the Earth’s crust?

  1. Aluminium
  2. Sulphur
  3. Sillicone
  4. Oxygen

2. Atoms of the same element differing with differing numbers of neutrons are:

  1. Isotopes
  2. Acids
  3. Bases
  4. Organic compounds

3. Which one of the following is not a type of a macromolecule polymer?

  1. Proteins
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Lipids
  4. Nucleic Acids

4. The nature of energy will change from a more ordered state to a less ordered state as long as no force counteracts this tendency. To which law does this apply?

  1. The first law of thermodynamics
  2. The second law of thermodynamics
  3. The third law of thermodynamics
  4. The zeroth law of thermodynamics

5. Which of the following are types of plate boundaries:

  1. Sedimentary and metamorphic
  2. Continental and oceanic
  3. Rock and mineral
  4. Transform, divergent and convergent

6. The pH scale ranges from 0-20. True or False?

7. Entropy: an increasing state of order. True or False?

8. Match the definition with corresponding term:


The ratio of useful energy output to the amount needing to be input Polymers
Long chains of repeated molecules and building blocks of life Organic compounds
Process of converting light energy into chemical energy Energy conversion efficiency
Pollution cleanup through enhanced natural biodegradation Photosynthesis
Carbon atoms joined by covalent bonds and may include other elements Bioremediation


9. Energy manifests itself in different ways and can be converted from one form to another. Explain and give examples of the different types of energy.

10.  Illustrate the three different hypotheses that explain life’s origin. Choose one you agree with the most and explain why.

Chapter 3: Evolution, Biodiversity and Population Ecology

This chapter explains the process of natural selection and how evolution results in biodiversity. It also deals with the ever emerging issue of the extinction and rarity of species and ecological organization. Similarly enough, this chapter covers the issue of population growth and many other aspects of population ecology, such as logistic growth, carrying capacity, and limiting factors.


1. Biological diversity refers to:

  1. Variety of life across all levels of biological organization
  2. Widespread of species
  3. Divergent evolution
  4. Allopatric speciation

2. Which one of the following is not a way of natural selection acting on genetic variation

  1. Directional Selection
  2. Symmetric Selection
  3. Stabilizing Selection
  4. Disruptive Selection

3. What are the factors of population change?

  1. Natality, mortality and population size
  2. Immigration and emigration
  3. Mortality, natality, immigration and emigration
  4. Population size and biodiversity

4. Which population growth has a J-shaped curve?

  1. Cubic growth
  2. Linear growth
  3. Logistic growth
  4. Exponential growth

5. Population distribution describes:

  1. Spatial arrangement of organisms in an area
  2. Number of individuals in a population per unit area
  3. The relative numbers of organisms of each age within a population
  4. The dynamics of population change

6. Biological evolution is the domestic change in populations of organisms across generations. True or false?

7. Once a species is extinct, it is lost forever. True or false?

8. Match the definition with corresponding term:


Process by which individuals of one species capture, kill, and consume individuals of another species. Commensalism
Interaction which occurs when animals feed on tissues of plants. Mutualism
Strong or wide – reaching impact far out of proportion to its abundance. Herbivory
Relationship between the species in which one species benefits and the other is unaffected. Predation
Relationship in which 2 or more species benefit from their interaction. Keystone species


9. Commonness, rarity and extinction. The House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus) has an extensive geographic range, a broad habitat tolerance and a large local population. The Fish Crow has a restricted geographic range, a narrow habitat tolerance and a large local population. Recognize and explain which of the two given species is more likely to be vulnerable to extinction.

10. The human population has risen to 6.9 billion, which has exceeded Earth’s historic carrying capacity for people. What do you think are the factors which increased Earth’s carrying capacity for humans? Are there limiting factors for us and what might they be?

Chapter 4 – Species Interactions and Community Ecology


This chapter informs us about the major types of species interactions and the characterization of feeding relationships and energy flow. It also tells us about the construction of trophic levels and food webs with particular focus on keystone species. The chapter deals with possible impacts on a given community by an invasive species and lists terrestrial biomes of the world.


1. Latitudinal location determines:

  1. temperature and precipitation
  2. appearance of particular biome and particular season
  3. atmospheric circulation
  4. plant adaptation

2. Secondary succession is:

  1. predictable changes of series in a community following a disturbance
  2. disturbance in which eliminates all vegetation and/or soil life
  3. disturbance which dramatically alters but doesn’t destroy all local organisms
  4. a communities changes in response to disturbance, but later returns to its original state

3. Which one of the following is not  one of the most important categories of species interaction?

  1. Habitat
  2. Predation, herbivory and parasitism
  3. Mutualism
  4. Competition

4. Which one of the following is not one of the ten terrestrial biomes;

  1. Temperate deciduous forest
  2. Temperate grassland
  3. Tropical grassland
  4. Tropical rainforest

5. Top predators control populations of:

  1. Herbivores
  2. Carnivores
  3. Omnivores
  4. Keystone species

6. Biome is a major regional complex of similar communities recognized by plant type and vegetation structure. True or False?

7. Species interaction determine only the structure and species composition of the community. True or False?

8. Match the definition with corresponding term:


Process by which individuals of one species capture, kill, and consume individuals of another species. Commensalism
Interaction which occurs when animals feed on tissues of plants. Mutualism
Strong or wide – reaching impact far out of proportion to its abundance. Herbivory
Relationship between the species in which one species benefits and the other is unaffected. Predation
Relationship in which 2 or more species benefit from their interaction. Keystone species

9.  “Some animals are more equal than others”, George Orwell wrote in his classic novel Animal Farm. In communities, ecologists have found, some species exert greater influence than others. Identify and describe the name given to these types of species in a community and explain how they affect or influence the food chain.


10. Analyzing the graph given below, pick up all the information you can and conclude which biome has the characteristics shown in this example.

(Source 2)

Chapter 6- Environmental Ethics and Economics: Values and Choices

This chapter discusses the influences of culture and world view on the choices people make. It also deals with the historical expansion of ethics in Western cultures and environmental ethics. The chapter explains how our economies exist within the environment and rely on ecosystem services. Chapter 6 also addresses the pronciples of classical and neoclassical economics. It discusses the concepts of economic growth, well – being, and sustainability.


1. Which of the following is not an assumption of neoclassical economics:

  1. Resources are infinite or substitutable
  2. Costs and benefits are internal
  3. The market is guided by an “invisible hand”
  4. Long-term effects are discounted

2. In which of the following modern economies the government determines how to allocate resources:

  1. Subsistence economy
  2. Capitalist market economy
  3. Mixed economy
  4. Centrally planned economy

1. Which of the following refers to classical economics:

  1. The market favors market equilibrium between supply and demand
  2. Competition between people free to pursue their own economic self interest will benefit society as a whole
  3. Human economies exist within and depend on the environment
  4. Environment is an external “factor of production”

2.Which of the following is not a factor which shapes our worldviews:

  1. Religion and spiritual beliefs
  2. Political ideology
  3. Economics
  4. Culture

3.Which of the Western ethics claim that certain living things also have value:

  1. Biocentrism
  2. Anthropocentrism
  3. Ecocentrism
  4. Ecofeminism

6. Our values affect our environmental decisions and actions. True or false?

7. Neoclassical economics incorporates anthropology. True or false?

8. Match the definition with corresponding term:


A person’s or group’s beliefs about the meaning,purpose, orientation and essence of the world. Externalities
Manufactured materials that are brought. Economic growth
An increase in an economy’s production and consumption of goods and services. Worldview
Costs or benefits which involve people other than buyers and sellers. Goods
Work done for others as a form of business Services

9. Define and compare economic growth, well being and sustainability.

10. Is environmental justice equally applied to all world nations? If not, explain why and give and example.

Conclusion


From this unusual assignment and activity I learned how to observe from a more of critical point of view towards the chapters in our text book, meaning I’ve spent more time on distinguishing what is important and what is irrelevant. All of the chapters which have been reviewed in this assignment are pretty long, but useful. Not only are they consisted of information, but also of the case studies, examples and critical points of view.

To sum up, I found this activity very beneficial, since it was uncommon and exceptional way to learn material for this course, which is the main purpose of the whole effort invested in the end.

Sources:

(1) Globalis. Retrieved on March 27, 2011 from http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator_detail.cfm?Country=KW&IndicatorID=19#row

(2) Worldwide Bioclimatic Classification System.Retrieved on March 27, 2011 from http://www.globalbioclimatics.org/plot/cy-papho.htm



Ecological Footprint

 

 

Depiction of Ecological Footprint (13)

What are the meanings of terms Ecological Footprint (EP), Ecological Overshoot, and Carrying Capacity?


Ecological Footprint (EF) is an amount of human demand on Earth’s ecosystems. EF number shows us the amount of productive land and water which are required for the humankind’s consumption in order to produce energy and natural resources and to absorb the waste humans create. Leaving no ecological footprint would mean that humans gives back to the environment just as much as he’s taking.

Ecological overshoot is a phenomenon which indicates that humans are taking and using sources from the environment more than they’re giving back. Overshoot can cause many problems. Not only does it make a huge impact on the environment, but it also may create wars for overtaking the resources among the countries.

Carrying Capacity is represents the largest number of individuals of a given species, which can survive for a long period in particular environment. Carrying Capacity depends on limiting factors, such as salinity, nutrients, salinity, light, etc.

Following table shows EFs of several countries’ population, their GDP per capita, and the relation between these two with the world’s EF and GDP per capita


(1)

 

Which meaning does the size of Ecological Footprint provide? On what does the EF depend on?


The size of an ecological footprint depends on the type of resources a particular population uses, on income (GDP), technology, and lifestyle.

A large ecological footprint indicates that the population has a high consumption of natural resources, high annual income, highly developed technology, and fast and high lifestyle and standard.

Large ecological footprint is the reflection of over usage of environmental resources. In addition to this, not only do people overuse and misuse natural resources, but they also create difficulties in nature. By saying this I refer to the incapability of nature to absorb as much waste as humans create.

A small ecological footprint provides the opposite meaning: the population doesn’t have a high consumption of resources, they’re not economically strong, the technology is not developed very much, and lifestyle differs in many ways comparing to the populations which have large ecological footprint.

 

Ecological Footprints  and GDP per capita of different countries and what do they indicate


  • Bangladesh

The EF of Bangladesh is 0.6, which is a small footprint. Reasons responsible for Bangladesh’s small footprint are highly related to this country’s lifestyle. Bangladesh is a poor country, whose GDP per capita is low. Because their income is not large, they do not spend much money, which is directly connected to the amount of consumption of the resources. As they don’t consume resources as much some other countries, they don’t produce a lot of waste. Furthermore, this country is not highly developed, technology and standard are not modernized – all these indicators contribute to small EF of Bangladesh.

  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

On the other hand, United Arab Emirates have an EF equal to 9.9.  According to the indicators mentioned above, UAE belongs to the group of large EF. UAE’s GDP per capita is high: is $18,250. From this number one can easily conclude that high annual income is one of the reasons for large EF, since it allows this country’s citizens to spend and produce waste in high measures. Moreover, UAE is one of the top countries from which the rest of the world gets oil from. Not only oil is extracted in this country, but also several more resources. The enlarged usage of natural resources consequently influences on the EF. Since UAE is successfully contributing to its economics by selling extracts from natural resources, the standard and technology are very modern, This is an additional fact which causes consequences such as large EF.

  • Australia

EF of Australia is 7.7, which is again a large EF. The GDP per capita of this country is $28,260. These numbers are related to each other, in sense that high GDP per capita is only one of the factors which cause large EF. Additionally, Australia doesn’t have much of fertile soil, and therefore farmers are over exhausting the existing useful land. Over usage of existing soil causes land degradation, which is one of the major Australia’s concerns these days. Australia’s citizens are using as much as they can from what their resources allow them. If there is something they do not use, they export it, which brings them more money and increases GDP per capita. As they’re earning more money, their lifestyle and technology have evolved and have allowed Australians to live luxurious lifestyle, not caring about the environment.

 

Relationship between GDP per capita and EF


GDP per capita is directly connected to the EF. As GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is an annual income, which creates a lot of influence on the EF. More money one country possesses the wider spectra of opportunities for spending is created. As population spends a lot of money, they’re needs are growing and more natural resources are being exhausted. The use of natural resources is one of the main indicators on which the EF is based.

 

My personal Ecological Footprint


(2)

(3)


My EF is 2.27, which means if everyone on planet Earth would life live my lifestyle, we would need 2.27 Earths. My EF is same as my country’s EF, which means we are have large influence on our environment. On the other hand, it is much higher the EF of Bangladesh. However, it has much lower than UAE’s and much higher than Thailand’s EF.

According to Serbia’s area and population, my personal EF and EF of my country is much higher than it should be. Reasons for this phenomenon is the absence of recycling habits and over usage of natural resources.

(4)

(5)

As far as it comes to my EF, my Housing and Carbon footprint are higher than Serbia’s average. However, my Food and Goods and Services footprints are lower than of Serbia’s population. These indicators show in which categories I make mistakes and which habits I should change in my current lifestyle. For example, some changes should be provided in my housing matters, and in my way of using the carbon as well.

 

Conclusion


The calculation of my footprint and the EFs of other countries and nations has helped me to understand the seriousness of this matter. Majority of Earth’s population is not aware of how everyday habits and lifestyle contribute to the state of environments and natural resources. Instead of creating a luxurious lifestyle, we should be more occupied by how we can adopt our needs to the nature’s offers. In other words, we are not a species that should define the destiny of other organisms. Since we’re the only species which are capable of reasonable thinking, we should use our genius minds in order to sustain the resources and everything else we use so as to provide better environment to the future generations.

References:

(1) Globalis. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu.

(2) Ecological Footprint: Center For Sustainable Economy. Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://myfootprint.org/en/quiz_results/.

(3) Global Footprint Network. Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/.

(4)Ecological Footprint: Center For Sustainable Economy. Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://myfootprint.org/en/quiz_results/.

(5)Ecological Footprint: Center For Sustainable Economy. Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://myfootprint.org/en/quiz_results/.

(6) eHow: The Definition of Ecological footprint. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/about_5090820_definition-ecological-footprints.html.

(7) The Sustainable Scale Project: Ecological Footprint. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.sustainablescale.org/conceptualframework/understandingscale/measuringscale/ecologicalfootprint.aspx.

(8) What is an Ecological Footprint. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.gdrc.org/uem/footprints/what-is-ef.html.

(9) Biology Online: Carrying Capacity. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Carrying_capacity.

(10) Human Transit. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.humantransit.org/2010/03/does-highdensity-life-have-a-bigger-ecological-footprint-and-why.html.

(11) NOVA: Science In The News. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.science.org.au/nova/087/087key.htm.

(12) Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. 4th Ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

(13) Stepping Forward (2005). Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.steppingforward.org.uk/summ/fp.htm.


Easter Island vs. Tikopia

Easter Island


Easter Island (today called Rapa Nui) is situated in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 2000 miles west of South America. It was firstly reached by the Polynesians in the 5th century CE, and as soon as it was reached, the population started growing and improving its lifestyle. The density of the population grew along with the agricultural innovation. Easter Island was discovered in 1722 by European explorers. The condition of the island at that moment was disastrous – explorers found the island’s habitants starving and committing cannibalism in warfare. However, according to Jared Diamond (1), the ecological and environmental origins have been clear only for the past twenty years. Scientists claim there are several consequences, but only one reason for the mysterious collapse of Easter Island. The cause is the island habitants’ uncontrolled misuse of the natural resources. On the other hand, the consequences are tremendous: population has faced with the deforestation, land erosion, extinction of many species, etc. As it is known from the environmental science and ecology, once a species becomes extinct, the same species cannot appear again on the face of Earth. This is why the Easter Island’s population wasn’t capable of rebuilding.

Despite the fact that the population of this island commited self – destruction, the evidences depict their rich culture. When I say evidences, I refer to the giant stone statues also known as Moai, which weight around 80 tons each. Due to the scientists’ exploration, these massive statues were transported by the wooden tracks. Ben Ewen – Campen (2) states that this is the reason which mainly caused the deforestation, which later caused the absence of the boats for fishing (population’s main food resource). Consequently, the natural resources were destroyed because of the cultural traditions and architecture.

Eister Island's stone statue hight compared with average human's hight. Source (6)

 

This video is a short representation of the Easter Island’s destruction

Source (10)

 

Tikopia


Tikopia is an island smaller than the Easter Island. It is situated in Pacific Ocean. This small extinct volcano was discovered in 900 BC by the Polynesians.

Due to the information mentioned above, the history and tradition of Tikopia is very long. Although Tikopia is smaller than the Easter Island, “the maximum population density of Tikopia was much greater than that of Easter Island” (2). However, there is a reason why the population was greater and why there are still natural resources available on this island.

Tikopia was a homeland of the Polynesians, which had built throughout the time very rich culture, like the ones on Easter Island. However, what makes Tikopia different from Easter Island is the fact that Tikopia had a “low – conflict society”, in which Tikopians have made society – wide decisions. These decisions contributed to the Tikopian’s peace and lifestyle. As I mentioned before, there are still natural resources available on this island unlike the Easter Island. There are many ways in which the Tikopians kept sustainability; but the most interesting one is removal of the pigs from the island. They decided to do this because pigs were continually eating the crops. This step in Tikopian’s society contributed to their stability. Since they used to sacrifice animals (pigs also) because of the cultural traditions, we can say that this is also a representation of a cultural sacrifice.

Tikopia's extinct volcano. Source (7)

 

Islands Today


Because of all the historical events which took place on these two islands, some changes have occurred.

Easter Island is “a metaphor for ecological disaster” (3). Today, there are around 5000 inhabitants, which are citizens of Chile. Moreover, it is a tourists’ destination with an open air museum. Due to the facts from the past, the resources of the Easter Island are very limited.

On the other hand, Tikopia is much more developed than the Easter Island. Tikopia is a part of Santa Cruz Islands. Around 1200 people share cultural traditions in an environment full of vegetation. The population is smaller on this island due to its area.

 

Easter Island vs. Tikopia


Today’s situation and faith of both of these islands was influenced by many factors.

However, the major changes and consequences happened due to the large – scale environmental changes made by a society.

As it was concluded before, destinies of Easter Island and Tikopia were not the same. Scientists claim that it has to do with the size of the islands. As Easter Island is bigger, it was consequently available for several cultures to develop. On the other hand, Tikopia is a small island whose small society had small decision making. In my opinion, this is extremely important since the habits of the population influence their environment.

Likewise the society and its culture can make changes in their surroundings, also environment of the islands contribute to the development of cultural traditions.

As we can see, there are many differences in the Easter Island’s and Tikopian’s societies. As the Tikopian society is smaller, it was easier for the Tikopians to make a conjunctive decision. Therefore, the break point when their started removing pigs from the island was exceedingly important. The idea for sustainability of Tikopians had changed the future of this island tremendously.

In spite of this, Easter Island’s society was bigger and for this reason the decision making wasn’t that easy for them. Moreover, when they discovered the resources, the habitants were using them without control in order to improve their lifestyle and culture. They weren’t thinking about the distant future – they were satisfying their present needs, which led to the hideous consequences. They didn’t exactly have an approach to the idea of sustainability, which led to disappearance of the natural resources and to the collapse of plentiful ecosystems.

To sum up, the decisions and mistakes made by each of these two societies were made slowly. We should be aware of the fact that it was an ongoing process which lasted for centuries. Without an accurate knowledge of the consequences, mistakes have been made by the Easter Island’s habitants and modern society should learn from this example. In my opinion, the given example is very beneficial for current world’s societies and we should take an advantage of the previous happenings in order to improve our environmental problems’ solutions. Today’s growth of population and increased use of the natural resources may lead to a disaster even worse than the one which took place on the Easter Island. Modern societies should have much better approaches to the ideas of sustainability so as to provide a better environment to future generations. There is no need for any other fallen culture, ecosystem, or environment.

Easter Island's Inhabitants. Source (8)

Easter Island's inhabitants. Source (9)

References:

(1)   Diamond J. Ecological Collapses of Pre-industrial Societies. Stanford University, May 2000

(2)   Ewen – Campen B. (2003). Culture and the Environment on Easter Island and Tikopia. Retrieved February 19, 2011 from http://fubini.swarthmore.edu/~ENVS2/S2003/Bewenca1/Ben_Second_Essay.htm

(3)   Brookman D. (2007). Easter Island Home Page. Retrieved February 21, 2011 from http://www.netaxs.com/~trance/rapanui.html

(4)   Easter Island: The mystery of population collapse. Retrieved February 21, 2011 from http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/News-Events/News-Archive/2008-News-archive/Easter-Island-The-mystery-of-population-collapse

(5)   Tikopia. Retrieved February 19, 2011 from http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/dewiki/en/Tikopia

(6)   Honors Senior Thesis Research Support. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://www.honors.ls.wisc.edu/SiteContent.aspx?prev=1&id=46

(7)   Help to Save a Civilization – Tikopia. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://home.netcom.com/~yellowrose/tikopia/id1.html

(8)   Faces of Melanesia: Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://www.zeco.com/travel-reports/fullreports.asp?id=112

(9)   Heritage Images. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://www.heritage-images.com/Preview/PreviewPage.aspx?id=2324961&pricing=true&licenseType=RM

(10)National Geographic. “End of Easter Island” (June 01, 2009). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfbQA-Krx9Q

About me

About me

Hello! My name is Tamara and I’d like to welcome You to my Ecology class blog. Currently, I am a freshman at the American College of Thessaloniki and my major is Business and Computing.

The purpose of this blog

This blog has several purposes. The first one is uploading the class assignments. Besides this, all the users of this particular blog can see the texts, pictures, and videos I will be posting for the whole semester. This may become interesting to the readers and make them be interested in and curious about the topics I’ll be discussing here. Moreover, since we live in the 21st century, I found creating this blog very useful, because besides having a fast and direct relation to the professor, we are learning how to use this technological application which is widespread these days. In addition to this, I’m going to get the feedbacks from the professor, which is beneficial since I’ll be aware of which changes I should make in order to improve my work.

Topic I’m concerned about

So far, the Earth is the only planet with living organisms. Its nature is complex and rich of the various types of resources. As the time was going by and humankind has been improving its lifestyle, the natural resources we use everyday are going to disappear. Therefore, the lack of the natural resources became a serious environmental issue which is part of our everyday life. I think that people should be more aware of what is going on with the nature around them and that they should start acting immediately. In order to be efficient and helpful, I’d like to discuss more about the natural resources in this class.

My place of origin

Due to the unexpected circumstances, I was born in Tehran (Iran), but my origins are from Serbia. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and my hometown, in which I’ve been living for thirteen years now. Serbia’s topography is very interesting because it is consisted of one big plain (Panonija) and a few little ones, several big mountains, and of a number of rivers. The highest mountains in Serbia are Kopaonik and Zlatiobor. Besides their beautiful nature and healthy environment, these mountains are homes for a huge number of species. Moreover, they’re popular skiing centers and places for holidays. The longest river in Serbia is Danube and many rivers mouth in this one. Some other long rivers are Sava, Big Morava, Tisa, Drina, and Tara. All of the rivers, especially Danube have a big importance, because they’re main water resources, irrigation systems, and significant ecosystems. Most of these rivers and the mountains are national parks highly visited and popular lately. Mountain Kopaonik became a national park in 1981. Because of the number of endemic species is one of the most important centers of biodiversity of endemic flora of Serbia.

Mountain Kopaonik

The following video is a presentation of Kopaonik’s environment

 

Serbia’s environmental problem

Although river Danube is very important to Serbia for many reasons, people don’t seem to care enough about it. As the years were passing by, Danube has been polluted constantly. The life of animals and plants in this river has been endangered. One of the Earth’s biggest problems has affected Danube in various ways. By saying ‘Earth’s problem’, I refer to the global warning. The amount of rain, snow, and melted ices that appeared due to the global warming affected the Danube’s water level. Since the level is higher than ever before, many people who were living next to this river have lost their homes and land. Serbia has been investing in this issue for at least 5 years now in order to give this people their homes back. However, what the government didn’t do and which is extremely important is preventing the floods of this river. I agree it’s a global problem and issue, but the solution to the problem can start from changing habitants’ bad daily habits which contribute to this issue.

Danube through Serbia

Floods in Danube's valley

 

Life in Belgrade

The Center of Belgrade

As I said before, I live in Belgrade. It is a beautiful city, which has around 2 million people. As years were passing by, it has been enlarged and around 230,000 people immigrate in Belgrade every year. Belgrade is a good place for living, but these changes I mentioned previously led to destroying the environment of the city. People are not really aware of what is going on with our city’s nature, and they’re not taking any action in order to save its beauty and uniqueness. In my opinion, Belgrade has a lot of environmental issues to be solved and this should be the major concern of its citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The difference between Environmental Science, Environmentalism, and Ecologist


Environmental scientists are concerned about how the natural world works, how the environment affects us and vice versa. These scientists study the issues which are crucial to our environment. Moreover, they’re trying to pursuit the knowledge about the working of the natural world and how our interactions contribute to it or destroy it – it is an interdisciplinary field which is consisted of information about the world and of human behavior. Environmentalists are members of a social movement which is dedicated to protecting the nature. In addition to this, its concern is protecting people from undesirable changes which are made by human actions. Ecologists are scientists that study about the interactions among organisms and between the organisms and their environments. The relationships among the organisms which ecologists are studying about are on the levels of organisms, populations, ecosystems, and the biosphere. Although these three terms seem to be similar, there are some differences between them. Firstly, environmental scientists and ecologists are scientists who deal with two different sciences, in which their goal is to maintain objective. Even though a scientist is always affected by personal opinion and experiences, it is very important for them to stay focused on their studies without any outside influences in order to achieve right and useful information. In contrast to this, environmentalism is a movement created by people who are concerned about the environmental problems. Environmental scientists study many of the same issues that environmentalists care about. However, there is a difference among the two sciences. Environmental scientists study about the human interaction with the nature, but on the other hand ecologists are more concerned about the nature particularly and its levels of hierarchy of the living organisms. In my personal opinion, human society should care about the environmental issues and should start to act. Since I care about the nature around me, I’d like to contribute to solving the problems with which environmentalists are dealing with. Besides the fact that global issues should be solved globally, each one of us can save the environment around us by doing little work, for instance recycling the garbage from the homes.

 

Me as the population ecologist


As an ecologist, I had a task to show how Total fertility rate is related to The Gross National Product (GNP) in the countries of all the continents. After I have plotted and established the given data, I came to a few conclusions. I noticed that fertility decreases when GNP increases. This shows us that in the richest countries, in the ones whose annual income is high, the fertility rate is low. There are several reasons that could explain this phenomenon. Firstly, the high value of GNP shows us that in countries which are in this situation people are occupied and concerned mostly with their careers. Although these societies have the conditions to create families, they have no time or have less time for the family and that’s why they do not build families or make children. Such countries exist in Europe (France, UK, Norway, Luxembourg, etc.) and North America mostly.

Second of all, the countries with high fertility rate have families with many children. In poor countries like these, people are less educated and are not aware of all types of the birth

control. These families reproduce a lot, yet they have no income or just a little and are not capable of creating a quality life for their families. In addition to this, the countries of these people are not investing nor in children or families, so this is why the lives of these people are even more difficult. For example, the countries which have this problem are the countries of South America, Africa, and Asia greatly. In the country I was born in (Iran) the total fertility rate is high and the GNP is low. Since Iran is an Asian Arabic country, the poor lifestyle of its citizens and the amount of population contributes to the big number of children in families.

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