6.3 Ecological Footprint


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UBC Bio 111 - Intro to Biology

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6.3 Ecological Footprint

  1. 1. 6.3 Ecological Footprint Learning Outcomes: 2. List factors that contribute to ecological footprints. 3. Calculate your ecological footprint and identify ways to reduce it. View: “The Story of Stuff” http://www.thestoryofstuff.com Optional reading: Is Humanity Fatally Successful, by Prof. William Rees (UBC) http://www.scarp.ubc.ca/rees%20Is%20Humanity%20Fatally%20Successful.pdf Assignments: Calculate your Ecological Footprint from one of the websites on VISTA before class Your salmon-farming case study will be due Monday Oct 26th at the start of class Be sure to read these notes over before class as we will go through them quickly to give you time to work on your salmon farming project. Ecological footprint (EF) – a concept created by Dr. William Rees (UBC) and his former graduate student Mathis Wackernagel Ecological footprint represents the land area necessary to provide resources as well as to discharge waste into. It can be calculated for a single person or for a whole country. How to calculate EF: Compare how much land is available versus all the things we need to get from it Globally: There are six types of ecologically productive a) land available areas 1. Arable and pasture land (for crops and animal grazing) 2. Forest 3. Ocean 4. Energy land (land required to extract and process fossil fuels, perform all other energy-harvesting activities AND to absorb CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels) 5. Built-up land (taken by all the buildings and roads) 6. Land left undeveloped for all other species If we assume humans take 88% for the first 5 uses that leaves 12% for biodiversity (for the other 25 million species on the planet). This leaves ~ 2ha/person on the planet and if we want any land for recreation (0.3 ha/person) we are left with 1.7 ha to support the needs of one person 1.7 ha = 4.2 acres or roughly the size of two big soccer fields or two baseball fields When your ecological footprint is calculated 1 earth = you only using 1.7ha. Question: If you need 5 ha to support all your activities, if everyone needed that much land how many earths would we need?
  2. 2. b) consumption Five categories 1. Food 2. Housing 3. Transportation 4. Consumer goods 5. Services 1.Consider the land needed to grow the food you eat 2. The land base required for construction of housing and location e.g., lumber How many hectares of forest are required to build an average home? In much of Scotland, which was once covered in forests, they have chopped down all the trees a long time ago so many houses are made of concrete. Where does concrete come from? 3. Transportation costs associated with everything you consume. e.g., grapes from Chile toys from China clothing from India 4. Energy associated with the manufacture of for production of consumables or products. e.g., fibres needed for clothing (cotton, wool) or artificial products like gore-tex FYI: (E.F. of a t-shirt) http://truestitches.blogspot.com/2007/04/ecological-footprint-of-t-shirt.html all electronic products FYI: http://www.science.org.au/nova/newscientist/027ns_005.htm?id=mg19426051.200&print=true 5. Services such as banking, education, hospitals, government have costs associated with supplying employees with the tools they need to provide the service. e.g., paper, computers This map shows how much land each country is taking up in relation to their ecological footprint. You can find more maps here: http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=322
  3. 3. The average footprint world- wide is: 2.2 hectares (~25% overcapacity) according to the WWF in their 2006 Living Planet report On average Americans: 9.6 ha Europeans:4.5 ha Chinese: 1.6 ha Canadians: 7.6 ha QUESTION: To support the world population in the average Canadian lifestyle we would need how many extra planets? The above figure and data come from the Living Planet Report http://assets.panda.org/downloads/living_planet_report.pdf Bill Rees says we, Homo sapiens, are going to suffer due to the same things that have made us such a successful species. http://www.scarp.ubc.ca/rees%20Is%20Humanity%20Fatally%20Successful.pdf “We are large, warm-blooded social mammals with correspondingly large demands and an inherent tendency to expand…. The self-oriented aggressive-defensive behaviours that served so well… early in our evolution are maladaptive in the ecologically full world today” Why are Homo sapiens so successful as a species? We are extreme omnivores (eat just about anything) We have dominated and over-exploited virtually every ecosystem on the planet. Our use of technology doesn’t separate us from our need to use resources from all these ecosystems…it just makes us better at our exploitation. We also have powerful myth-making abilities, which allows us to better cope with mysterious and frightening phenomena and to provide social cohesion What are the two biggest myths harming us? 1. Our key to prosperity is ever 2. Due to our use of increasing economic technology we can have growth through unlimited economic liberalized trade expansion without relying policies. on the environment 1. How much more stuff can we create/buy/ 2. Where does all our “stuff” come from, sell to feed the economy and how much if not from the environment? stuff do we really need? Please watch “The Story of Stuff” in this HIPPO learning module.
  4. 4. THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: What can be done to reduce the impact of humans on earth? What can we do as individuals? What can we do as a society? Personal Challenge: Identify at least one way you can lower your ecological footprint and act on this! Is there hope for the future? “Our best chance for survival lies in collective self-restraint and mutual commitment to the common good. This is an unaccustomed mode of human political behaviour. .. We can love, we are compassionate, we can show empathy for other people and even other species. Of course, some people are better at these things than others, but these are the human qualities that we must draw out in our schools and universities, in government and the private sector.” -Bill Rees Salmon Farming Case Study Part 2 and Your Assignment  As a group (the original group you chose to belong to) you will prepare a one-page position paper on salmon farming. This paper should include short paragraphs explaining the major impact of salmon farming on each of your interest groups. Include citations to indicate the source of these ideas. The final paragraph will be your group recommendations to the government with a clear explanation of your reasoning. (You must come to a consensus) Be sure to include the names of all group members on your paper. List all references cited. Refer to http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/bio1/ How to Cite and List References for formatting appropriate of citations and references for Biological Sciences. This assignment is Due Monday Oct. 26th.