Through Statistics and Film: Attempting to Bring Our World Closer to Being Green

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to provide us with insight and factual information about the different rends that have occurred in both our economy and the way that this in turn affects our own lives.

 “No Impact Man”

Living no impact for a year, can it be done? (1)

 “No Impact Man” is a documentary detailing the year in the life of Colin Beavan. A New York City resident, a writer and a newly found environmentalist, Beavan decides that for his next book idea, he wants, with his family, to live a year without causing ANY environmental impact. Along with his wife and daughter, he avoids using the elevator, traveling by car, bus, or train, buying food other than that of local farmer’s markets, producing waste, and using electricity for an entire year. The film highlights the successes and challenges to this no impact year. Beavan implores that living with no impact, or at least very little, is possible, if we as humans are ready to look at what we really need rather than what we “think” we need.

“No Impact Man” relates directly to previous class discussions. We spent time both in class and through assignments on ecological footprints. As stated by Withgott and Brennan, an ecological footprint is a “cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person or population consume and to dispose of or recycle the waste that is produced” (2). In a previous assignment, assignment 4, we discussed EFs in relation to ourselves and average EFs around the world. Many of us were shocked and dismayed at how many earths it would take if everyone lived our lifestyle. Beavan seeks to really highlight that point in an effort to make others reduce their own individual ecological footprint. Beavan harps on the amount of trash an average American produces. How avoidable is it? If we avoid certain things like drinking soda out of cans, water out of plastic bottles, coffee in disposable cups than we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. Using worm composts, one can recycle food waste into perfectly rich compost. All these methods can and will reduce one’s ecological footprint, leading to a less wasteful life, and a healthier one too (as Beavan lost 20 pounds over the year)! Beavan at one point says that he as one person cannot make that big of an impact, but it is his hope that through his actions, more people will join the effort. The average EF in the US is 9.5. This shocking number needs to be reduced and through collective individual efforts, Beavan hopes that people around the world can reduce their EFs.


 Can one family make a difference? (3)

“No Impact Man” is a very well produced film in my opinion. It is humorous while also informative and presents the material in a way that is very gripping. It is easy to follow along, even for those who are not environmentally aware. However, not all agree. A.O. Scott of the New York Times remains “unconvinced that the cause of planetary rescue will be advanced very far by what is, in the end, an elaborate stunt. But as a professional writer, a New York husband and a man with a compost bin, an organic-produce fetish and a guilty conscience, I can’t, in the end (all appearances to the contrary), judge Mr. Beavan or this film too severely. Making an impact is easy. Making a difference is hard” (4). I, however, politely disagree. While yes, Beavan did this experiment as a subject for his upcoming book, but I think regardless of the intention, it brought about a positive change, and one that many of us could learn from. It was well acted because it was real and that’s more than a lot of movies these days can say.

Graph from Gapminder displaying the relationship between life expectancy and average income from 1900 -2009 (5)

The website is a website that examines the relationships between different variables and there effects on one another over different time periods. I have chosen to focus on my home country, The United States. The two variables that I feel are the most important to be considered for the US are the life expectancy and the income per person. In the United States in the 1900’s the average life expectancy was 49 and the average income was 6,624. This is drastically different from both the life expectancy and the average income in 2009. In 2009  the life expectancy was 79 while the income per person was 41,256.

The two variables that I have chosen to examine are the life expectancy versus the average income. Today, in 2009 as the average income increases so does the life expectancy. The relationship is positive. Between the years 1900 and 2009, it is evident that there have been serious changes to both of the variables. These changes could be dependent on many historical/economical and political events that have occurred in the United States. From the 1900’s the average income per person is increasing every year until the 1920’s, in the 1920’s there is a decline for the income, from there on it remains the same until 1950s. This could be related to the fact that the Great Depression occurred in the 1920-40’s. This could have greatly hindered the progression of income.

6) The great depression, millions were without work


7) WWII American soldiers raise a victory flag

Also during these years WWII was surfacing and then occurring. This could provide an explanation for why the life expectancy rates also remained the same for many years along with the average income. The war took many lives, and significantly strained the economy as the US was providing aid to many of the other countries, and also spending a lot of money on warfare. After the 1950s both variables began to increase again. During the years between the 1950’s and 2009 many advances in technology were created particularly in medications. Medications were found to treat Hepatitis A, and also penicillin began to be used. This was able to boost both the average income and the life expectancy for most. In the 1970’s the average income was 23,346 and the life expectancy was 71, representing a very large increase from the 1920’s.

 8) Doctors using new technology to operate on patients

In conclusion we are able to see how much of a relationship there is between the economy, our usage of the world’s resources and the effects that all of these different factors have on sustaining human life!

Partners: Amy and Sasha


1) Youtube. “No Impact Man-Official Trailer” (Jul 29 2009). Retrieved May 19, 2011 from

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

3) No Impact Man. “Ridiculously Conspicuous Unconsumption” (Jan 13, 2009). Retrieved May 18, 2011 from

4) Scott, A.O. (2009). Portrait of a Marriage: Eco-Geeks Unplugged. Retrieved May 19, 2011 from

5) Gapminder (n.d.). The Wealth and Health of Nations. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2009$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL_n5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=295;dataMax=79210$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=19;dataMax=86$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=;example=75

6) The Great Depression. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from—unemployed-chicagoans.jpg

7) American WWII soldiers. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from

8) Doctors. Retrieved May 18, 2011 from


Population Growth a Friend or Fo?

The purpose of this post is to provide one with some information about the global population growth and its affects on the natural resources available throughout the world. It provides one with factual knowledge about the different perspectives on the matter and also the different predictions that have been proposed for the future.

(1) Newborns, Birthrate is the leading factor in population growth

Today, the state of the human population is increasing at an extremely quick rate. The global population is 7 billion and each year it is increasing by 60 million. (2) Many inhabitants are starting to move from the more rural areas to the cities creating problems with crowding and resource usage. The main concern with this topic is how will the earth be able to  support this many people? Withgott and Brennan (3) state that the earth’s carrying capacity sets specific limits on the amount of population growth that can occur. There are a specific amount of resources allotted to the earth in order to support the amount of people in the population. As the earth’s population is ever increasing, a serious risk is presented. It is estimated that if 1-2 billion people live in a “healthy environment” then 33 billion will be living in extreme poverty.

There are many different factors that can cause a rise in the population. The first, and perhaps most obvious factor is the birth rates that fluctuate each year. In countries that are more undeveloped the birth rates are higher, whereas the countries that have more wealth have lower birth rates. Another important factor concerns the ratio of women to men. Withgott and Brennan (3) propose that for every 100 women there are 106 men, the equality in numbers of men and women result in more offspring. Another factor is the immigration rates. People that seek refuge from their own countries in deserted territories often use the conserved resources in order to provide for themselves.

Immigrants traveling to new territory


The Cornucopian’s standpoint on this issue is that because of the advances in technology a solution will be found in order to continue to support the people of the world with the nutrients and natural resources that they need in order to function. Contradictory to this the Cassandra’s view on this issue is that if the world continues to increase in population and to use the resources at this rate there is going to be some sort of a disaster. I believe that many people are aware of the happenings and the risks that we are taking by using mass resources in our everyday lives and still continue to be wasteful. A dangerous problem exists with the world’s population growth and resource consumption. I think that if we do continue to live the way we do with an increasing population that eventually we will use up the resource quota and an eventual disaster will result.

Paul Ehrlich, American Biologist


Paul Ehrlich and the IPAT Equation: 

Paul Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator, but is better known as an ecologist and a demographer. He became well-known after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb. He was also one of the first ecologists to recognize that the impact of human activity on the environment must be calculated using three factors instead of just one.

The IPAT equation is a formula used to describe the impact of human activity on the environment. The lettering stands for:
Human impact (I) on the environment equals (=) the product of Population (P), Affluence (A), Technology (T). It describes how these three factors contribute toward our environmental impact.
-Ehrlich?s book The Population Bomb brought about much controversy in the 1970s. In his book, Ehrlich warned about unrestricted population growth and limited resources. He argued that the population was already too high, and that humanity could not prevent severe famines, the spread of disease, social unrest, and other negative consequences of overpopulation. He also said that societies must take strong action to curb population growth in order to lessen future disasters both ecological and social.
Some of what Ehrlich mentions in his book did not come true, however, his main predictions did happen. He has backed up his statements by saying that 600 million people are going hungry, billions are under-nourished, and that his predictions about disease and climate change were essentially correct. A large reason for this is because the world has not cut back on technology or resources. New technologies are being discovered daily by large, developed countries. Also, many countries have an increasingly large ecological footprint and they continue to use the earth?s resources at a fast pace.
-IPAT Equation
United States ? The US does not have any rules or regulations on restricting children. Families are allowed to have as many children as they prefer, it is a personal choice. The US is also a leader in new technology. Because it is such a large and developed country, the US has access to many resources and technologies that smaller, under-developed countries would not have. Increased affluence in the United States would also increase the countries impact on the environment.
China ? The impact on the environment for China would be quite different than that on the US. Although China?s population is extremely high, the country is taking steps to decrease it. The country has a mandatory one-child policy. Many parents feel the need to have a male child so that their child cannot have kids. To do so, many women have an abortion if they become pregnant with a female child. This would potentially decrease China?s impact on the environment; however, China is also a world leader in new technology. This idea means that the country?s impact on the environment would increase.
Uganda ? Most African countries are decreasing in population. This is mainly due to causes such as starvation, disease, lack of food, water and medical care. Besides the fact that jobs are hard to come by; residents of small under-developed countries, such as Uganda, do not have the opportunity to go to school, get an education, and get a job. This is a major hindrance to increasing affluence. Finally, a country such as this one does not have the ability or resources to increase their technologies. All of these factors lead to the conclusion that Uganda does not have a very large impact on the world?s environment.

Hans Rosling, professor of global health


Hans Rosling: 
Hans Rosling is a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Rosling’s current works focus mainly on uncovering the truth about the developing world. He presents his data and other findings in a very different and unique way. His main objective is to preach the importance of understanding our global history so that we can make changes for the future.Some of the points that he addressed in his lecture were to show the growth of the population for the different countries. He believes that all developed countries are moving towards the same space. The US, Europe and China are all advanced technologically and are advancing towards the same space, this presents a problem. Perhaps the most interesting point that I felt Rosling made was that from the graph we were able to see that in the 1800’s life expectancy was 35-40 years, this age is the same as life expectancy today in Afghanistan. It is shocking that many places still remain behind in the advances.

Overall, I believe that the information that Rosling presented was very eye opening. It is very helpful to see the relationships and connections that can be made between different time periods and different countries. His graphs take into consideration the variety of variables that exist within population growth and demonstrate for us the changes that have taken place over the years. It is important to take into consideration the information above, and work to find way to make sure that the population growth does not hinder the way we live our lives.

Works Cited:


2) Human Populations  . (n.d.). The Global Change Program at the University of Michigan. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from

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




The Industrialization of Food Production

The price of food in America includes a variety of different factors that many are unaware of. Food purchased in large commercial supermarkets includes both the cost of long-range food transportation and the price of the food. This type of system greatly affects many of the topics discussed in the classroom. Factors such as sustainability of the earth’s natural resources, preservation of the farmland that is used to produce this food and finally pollution from the transportation of these foods play a central role in the industrialization of food production. Below are some questions that relate to this very issue!


Chart of the total cost for transportation of food:

Consumer Daily Cost Annual cost
You $1.40 $511
Your class $28 $14,308
Your town (New York) 11,709,194 4.273856e+9
United States 429,809,170 1.568803e+11

1) What specific challenges to environmental sustainability are imposed by a food production and distribution system that relies on long-range transportation to bring food to market?

There are many different challenges that could arise because of this long-range transportation of food. This could cause an increase in the pollution rates, a loss in local food systems ,a decrease in the amount of farmland, and finally threaten the preservation of the natural resources that provide us this food. Also, because of this people become unaware of where their food is coming from and become less aware of the impacts that this has on their own communities and the environment. One possible solution would be to become more dependent on food produced locally, however this would present difficulty if much of the farmland is gone.

2 )A study by Pirog and Benjamin (2003) noted that locally produced food in the U.S. traveled only 80 kilometers (appx 50miles) or so to the market, thus saving 96% of the transportation costs. Locally grown foods may be fresher and cause less environmental impact as they are brought to market, but what are the disadvantages to you as a consumer in relying on local food production? Do you think the advantages outweigh those disadvantages?

Some of the disadvantages of buying food that is locally produced are that the product will be more exspensive than those foods produced at the supermarket. It is also sometimes less convenient to buy food that is locally produced because these places are usually located near farmland. Some people that live in more urban areas do not have access to these places. There is also less variety of food available to be purchased. Despite the disadvantages of locally grown foods, I think that there are many advantages that can arise and outweigh the disadvantages. Though it may be exspensive to purchase locally grown food, it is important to acknowledge the affects that the transportation of this food has on the environment. By switching to local food stores we are cutting down on pollution rates, greatly decreasing the price of transportation, and most importantly preserving the environment. The environment should be our main concern, it is what is providing us with these options for food and it is of vital importance that we protect this in order to have food consumption at all!

3) What happened to the gasoline prices recently? How would future increases in the price of gas affect your answers to the preceding questions?

Recently, the prices of gasoline have risen significantly. This unfortunately has a major affect on the preceding questions regarding the long-range transportation of food. An increase in the price of gasoline would result in an increase in the cost for this long-range transportation leading some to prefer shopping in local stores. Since the price of transportation is included in the price for food, there will be an increase in the price of food. However, this increase in the price of food may not be significant enough to deter costumers.


(4) If you are an American, how do you think these figures apply to other countries or your country? Where do you base your assumptions?

As an American citizen, I think that these figures greatly affect the way we live our everyday lives. Not only does it affect our economy ,but it also affects our health. There are many large cities that depend on the large supermarkets to provide them with cheap prices amongst accessability. More people live in the cities than in the areas closer to the farmland, so it is easier for them to buy from large supermarkets and rely on the transportation of food. These figures apply to other countries as sometimes food is exported or imported to the United States which raises the prices of certain foods. Also, many other countries are starting to build large scale supermarkets instead of relying on local businesses which raises the pollutiuon levels and prices that people must pay. I base my assumptions through my own experience, many people who live in the United States make decisions for food purchases based on price, and assesability. They are not as concerned with the environment because they are not able to see the results of this type of food system as often as some.

Works Cited:



Ecology Test: Want to test your knowledge of Ecology? See how much you know by taking this test!


The following questions will work to test your knowledge of Ecology based on classroom lectures and information from chapters 1,2,4 and 6. The point of this assignment is to create different questions that will influence both our own knowledge and the knowledge of others who attempt the questions!

Chapter 1: Science and Sustainability: An Introduction to Environmental Science!

This chapter provides an introduction to the important topics that concern the natural resources within the environment and the risk that human impact has these resources.

Multiple Choice

1. What does our environment consist of?

a)    Living and non-living things

b)   Continents

c)    Oceans

d)   All of the above

2. An experiment includes:

a)    An independent variable

b)   A manipulated variable

c)    A tested variable

d)   A question

3. The tragedy of the commons is:

a)    Complete resource depletion

b)   Deforestation

c)    Global warming

d)   Traffic pollution

4. The Scientific Method includes one of the following:

a)    A hypothesis

b)   An independent Variable

c)    An ecological footprint

d)   A manipulated variable

5. What is biodiversity?

a)    Different types of pollution

b)   Diversity amongst species

c)    The cumulative number and diversity of living things

d)   The genetic makeup of different species

True or False

1. Sustainable development is the use of resources in a manner that satisfies our current needs but does not compromise the future availability of resources.

2. The scientific method does not concern scientific experiments.


1. Natural Resource a) Surpassing the earth’s capacity to sustainably support us 


2. Renewable natural resources b) Sunlight, wind, wave energy. 


3. Nonrenewable resources c) Substances and energy sources that we take from our environment and that we need to survive. 


4. Fossil fuels d) Once they are depleted they are no longer available super passing the earth’s capacity to sustainably support us
5. Overshoot e) Oil, coal, natural gas 


Essay Questions

1. Distinguish between the terms environmental science and environmentalism.

2. Create your own experiment by employing the steps of the scientific method. Describe how each step will be carried out.

Chapter 2: From Chemistry to Energy to Life

This chapter focuses mainly on the fundamentals of environmental chemistry.  Also discusses are the molecular building blocks of organisms; energy and energy flow; photosynthesis, respiration, and chemosynthesis; major hypotheses for life’s origins; and finally, our knowledge of early life on Earth.

Multiple Choice

1. Organic compounds

a)    Are carbon atoms joined by covalent bonds

b)   Have a pH of 7

c)    Contain only carbon and hydrogen

d)   Do no exist

2. The human body is made up of mainly

a)    Carbon

b)   Hydrogen

c)    Oxygen

d)   Iron

3. Macromolecules can include

a)    Lipids

b)   Carbohydrates

c)    Bones

d)   Proteins

4. Organisms use all of these main sources of energy except

a)    Inorganic molecules

b)   Light

c)    Organic molecules

d)   Music

5. Bacteria can survive and thrive in all but

a)    Salt

b)   Acid

c)    Clean and dry surfaces

d)   Iron

True or False

  1. Less than half of Earth’s surface is made up of water.
  2. 4.5 billion years ago, no oxygen existed in the atmosphere, until photosynthesis developed in microbes.


1. Acid a) Nature or energy changes from a more-ordered to a less-ordered state
2. Photosynthesis b) Pollution cleanup through enhanced natural biodegradation
3. Bioremediation c) Light energy converted into chemical energy
4. Second law of thermodynamics d) Can be gas, liquid, or solid
5. Hydrocarbon e) pH lower than 7

Essay Questions

  1. Describe the three types of energy and how each kind works (potential, kinetic, chemical).

2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of phytoremediation: using plants to clean-up soils.

Chapter 3: Evolution, Biodiversity, and Population Ecology

This chapter introduces such topics as biodiversity and factors that may lead to extinction and/or population increase and decrease.

1. Genetic change in populations of organisms across generations is ___________

a)    natural selection

b)   artificial selection

c)    adaptation

d)   biological evolution

2. _______________ has led to the great variety of dog breeds (selective breeding).

a)    artificial selection

b)   adaptation

c)    evolution

d)   lack of pet control


Biosphere An organism’s use of resources and its functional role in a community
Community The environment in which an organism lives
Ecosystem The total living things on Earth and the areas they inhabit
habitat Interacting species that live in the same area
niche Communities and nonliving material and forces they interact with

True or False

4. Geographic range, habitat tolerance, and population size are three factors that can contribute to rarity.

5. Rarity in any form appears to decrease vulnerability to extinction.

6. Describe the four primary causes of population decline.

7. Carrying capacity can be defined as ___________________.

a)    The maximum population size of a species that its environment can sustain.

b)   The minimum population size of a species that its environment can sustain.

c)    How much weight each species can carry.

d)   The population growth rate.

8. Demonstrate how limiting factors affect a species in any given environment. How and why do these factors affect population growth?

9. Extinction can be defined as ____________________.

a)    When the dinosaurs disappeared.

b)   Survival of the fittest.

c)    When the last member of a species dies and the species ceases to exist.

d)   Eventual.

10. Allopatric speciation is species formation due to __________ separation of populations.

a)    Physical.

b)   Metaphorical.

c)    Genetic

d)   Topographical.

Chapter 4: Species Interactions and Community Ecology

This chapter discusses the differences between the different Biomes within the world’s regions.

Multiple Choice

1. Competition is _________:

a)    When multiple organisms seek the same limited resources.

b)   When species fight with each other physically to obtain resources

c)    When species produce a stable point of equilibrium.

d)   When species use only small portions of their resources.

2. The tropical rainforest biome has:

a)    Climates that alternate between very wet and dry seasons.

b)   Climates that only include dry seasons.

c)    Climates that include only wet seasons.

d)   Climates that are very mild.

3. What percentage of the world’s forest do rainforest’s host?

a)    14%

b)   50%

c)    90%

d)   20%

4. What is latitude?

a)    The distance from the sun.

b)   The distance from the moon to the earth.

c)    The distance from the primeridian.

d)   The distance from the equator.

5. What do plants depend on to pollinate their flowers?

a)    Other plants

b)   The rays of the sun

c)    Photosynthesis

d)   Other animals

True or False

1. Soil is a good nutrient because its acidic, thin and low in organic matter.

2. In an Intricate relationship, plants depend on animals to pollinate their flowers.


1. Biome  a) An organism such as a fungus or bacterium
2. Decomposers b) Cohesive entities
3. Food Web c) Hosts to different ecosystems
4. Producers d) Displays feeding relationships and energy flow
5. Communities e) Highest rank in the feeding hierarchy

Essay Questions

1. Suppose some cosmic catastrophe jolts the Earth so that its axis is perpendicular to the line between the sun and Earth. Discuss what will happen to the following:

a)    presence of day and night

b)   length of day and night

c)    change in the length of the year in the N Hemisphere

d)   temperature of the equator

e)    seasonal variations at northern and southern latitudes

2. Describe why each hemisphere has different seasons?

Chapter 6: Environmental Ethics and Economics: Values and Choices

This chapter discusses the economic growth and sustainability of the environmental resources. It also identifies the influence that culture and worldviews have on the ecological environment.

Multiple Choice

1. Ecocentrism is __________:

a)    An actions benefit or harm to the integrity of ecological systems.

b)   A calculation of how much of the earth’s natural resources can be preserved.

c)    A science that concerns the ecosystems of the world

d)   A social movement

2. The Preservation ethic is______________:

a)    People should manage natural resources responsibly

b)   The natural environment should remain in an unaltered state.

c)    Calculating one’s own impact on the natural resources of the world

d)   An increase in an economy’s production and consumption of goods and services

3. GDP stands for______________:

a)    Gross Dependent Product

b)   Gross Domestic Paridigm

c)    Genuine Dependent Progress

d)   Genuine Depressive Product

4. What does a person’s worldview reflect:

a)    Beliefs about the natural resource consumption

b)   Beliefs about natural resource preservation

c)    Beliefs about different religions

d)   Beliefs about the meaning, operation and essence of the world.

5. Greenwashing is _________:

a)    Consumers are misled into believing that companies are acting sustainably.

b)   The promotion of recycling projects.

c)    Watering plants daily

d)   Taking part in go-green exercises

True or False

1. Culture is the knowledge, beliefs, values, and learned ways of life shared by a group of people.

2. Worldview a person’s or group’s beliefs about the meaning, purpose, operation, and essence of the world


1. Environmental ethics  a) People who maintain that there exist objective notions of right and wrong that hold across cultures and contexts.
2. Ethics  b) People who believe that ethics do and should vary with social context. 

3. Relativists c) The application of ethical standards to relationships between people and nonhuman entities
4. Universalists d) Criteria that help differentiate right from wrong
5. Ethical standards e) A branch of philosophy that involves the study of good and bad, of right and wrong.

Essay Questions

1. “We say no to uranium mining now and for the future. Our right to say no comes from our ancestors, our heritage, our law and culture, our Native Title”

~Jacqui Kantona, Speaking for the Mirrar

Describe the ethical implications and advantages that arise when mining the natural resource of uranium. Demonstrate your knowledge of this topic through providing your own personal views as well as an example.

2. Identify the meanings of preservation ethics and conservation ethics and discuss the advantages and disadvantages for both.


Having the chance to create my own test opened my eyes to the multitude of information learned in chapters 1,2,4 and 6. By developing questions to ask I was able to understand more thoroughly the concepts that were discussed in the classroom lectures and in the reading. Also by having the opportunity to design this test I was able to form connections with the material learned over the beginning of the semester!

The Ecological Footprints of the World

(1) The planet Earth

The planet earth has within it large amounts of natural resources that have been used by countries across the entire world for billions of years. Each country has utilized these resources in varying amounts. Today, there is major concern for each country’s conservation of these extremely important resources. Some of the countries usage of the resources is moderate in order to preserve the decreasing amounts, however other countries usages are ever-increasing. Scientists have begun to calculate each country’s ecological footprints, which Withgott and Brennan (2) state are “the cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person or population consumes and to dispose of or recycle the waste that is produced (p.5)” in order to understand how much of the earth’s resources each country is using. Scientists have discovered that there is a certain amount of resources that can be allotted for each person, however have calculated that each person is using more than they should be, which presents a risk for the entire world! Some country’s inhabitants are overshooting their own individual limits. Overshooting, is the amount that the world’s inhabitants are going over the planet’s own resource usage and carrying capacity in order to sustain life. Carrying capacity also defined by Withgott and Brennan (2) is “the maximum population that an environment can sustain (p. 6).” The questions below reflect the chart created to compare each country’s ecological footprints. Through examining the chart we are able to see the differences in each country’s usage and also understand some of the reasons for these differences.

(3) Chart reflected on above

Bangladesh’s Ecological Footprint Compared to Australia and The United Arab Emirates

Countries that are less developed such as Bangladesh have a lower ecological footprint compared to more developed countries such as Australia. Bangladesh also does not have a very large Gross Domestic Product. Their Gross Domestic Product is very small as many inhabitants are poor, many don’t have the abilities to eat large sums of food or use vast amounts of technology. It is because of these factors that many less developed countries use less of the earth’s natural resources. Australia’s ecological footprint is 7.7 almost 13 times the size of Bangladesh’s. The reasons for this are numerous. Australia is a very wealthy and technologically advanced country. Many of its inhabitants require large amounts of food and energy in order to be sustained.  Pollution from traffic, water usage energy production and goods and services all contribute to the country’s footprint size. The United Arab Emirates has an EF of 9.9, the largest of all the countries within the chart. The reasons for this could also be based on the amount of people, the technological usage and the amount of food consumed. The inhabitants could do more traveling, use more energy for household necessities such as air conditioning and water usage, they could also not practice many of the techniques that can be used to preserve the resources such as recycling. Each individual’s necessities and usage of these resources is incredible, we do not realize the vast amount of resources that we use each day wastefully.

Does Gross Domestic Product have an effect on a Country’s Ecological Footprint?

It is evident that the countries with larger gross domestic product have a greater ecological footprint. Many of the countries that have a high GDP are wealthier and therefore have the means to produce greater amounts of food, technology, and energy amongst many other factors. Countries with lower GDP’s are not as wealthy, and are not as developed as most countries. These countries do not require the same amounts of resources. Many inhabitants within these countries do not produce mass quantities of food amongst other popular commodities produced in the United States. Also as discussed in the book (2) countries with higher pollution rates have a larger GDP. The aftermath of events such as hurricanes and pollution cleanups require a great amount of goods and services, which raise a country’s GDP (p.157).

(4) Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the cleanup increased US GDP.

My Own Ecological Footprint in Comparison with Other Countries: Ways in Which the US is Wasting Resources

After calculating my own personal footprint I realized what an enormous and sickening amount of resources are used everyday. My own footprint was 5.12, which is astronomical! We truly do not realize the amount of waste that we use and the effects on the resources of the environment. Compared to my own country this footprint is considered average, which is also very concerning. The inhabitants of the United States use large amounts of resources wastefully. My footprint is massive in comparison to an individual’s footprint in Bangladesh. An individual’s footprint is about four times smaller than my own. Compared to Canada my footprint is also average. Canada is very well-developed and as a result of this individuals are again acting wastefully. My footprint compared to Thailand is also very large. The inhabitants of the United States everyday use a great amount of carbon through air-conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. Food is served in large wasteful portions; supermarkets are filled with crops and meat, which require the use of large amounts of land. Water is sold in enormous amounts at the stores, and is also used in homes everyday. US citizens usually live in large apartment complexes or in individual houses, which require electricity, heating, and gas in order to function. US citizens also purchase vast amounts of commodities. Clothing and technological devices are in high demand and require many resources to produce. Places such as hospitals, independent business offices and restaurants are also very popular in America, and other countries. These services use large amounts of resources. Countries such as Thailand and Bangladesh have different living situations, food consumption rates and goods and services. They do not produce the mass amounts of food that countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia produce, or use the same amounts of goods and services, which prove to be extremely wasteful.

Through examining the chart and comparing the different countries ecological footprints and GDP it is evident how much of an impact each country has on the earth as a whole. By examining my own ecological footprint I was able to see the vast amount of resources that I am using in my daily life. It is important that we be conscious of the resources used and that we find ways to conserve and preserve the natural resources of our earth. If we continue to use the resources in the same way, we will all face severe consequences.



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

3.  Globalis – Indicator.” Indicator: GDP per capita – 2002. Global Virtual University , n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2011. <>.


Easter Island vs. Tikopia: What are the reasons for one civilization’s failures and another’s success?

Today, Easter Island is a small town with a population of over 2,000 people. It is a popular spot for tourism. Over 6,800 tourists a year visit the island to see it’s ancient statues and explore its rich history. The island has a variation of cliffs, sandy beaches and volcanoes. The land lacks much greenery and is very eroded and dry. There are only about 200 species that exist on the island, much of these have been imported. There are seabirds, dogs, cats, horses, cattle and a few insect species such as cockroaches. There are also a variety of crops on the island which include; sugar cane, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, grapes, pineapples and figs. Some of the natural resources are copper, timber, iron and metals.

Easter Island today


Easter Island looks very different from the time period in which it was first discovered. In its prime Easter Island had much greenery, it was surrounded by many forests and had a variety of different plant types. The resources on the island seemed endless. Perhaps this was the reason for the collapse of the ecological systems on the island. The inhabitants did not practice conservation of their non-renewable materials. Deforestation began and as a result the land became unable to produce crops. This caused mass starvation and a complete depletion of the island’s resources. Today, Easter Island provides us with an example of what a lack in sustainability and conservation can produce.

The Island of Tikopia, is an island in the southwest region of the Pacific Ocean.  Tikopia was an island much like Easter Island, however was able to sustain life and resources for over 3,000 years unlike Easter Island. There are numerous differences between the Island of Tikopia and Easter Island that allowed it to maintain resources and life for such a great period of time.



The first difference is that Tikopia, amongst other islands along the pacific developed alternate methods for “slashing and burning” trees. The inhabitants were able to make use of tree orchards and garden plots as to preserve the forests. Another difference was based on the Landscape of the Island. The inhabitants of the island had the ability to view the entire island, in this way many had the opportunity to see the effects of their cultivation. Easter Island’s design made it difficult for the inhabitants to view the damage being caused to their environment. Tikopia was also located near other islands, so inhabitants had the opportunity to migrate if the population became too large. Easter Island was very distant from other islands which made it hard to migrate or trade with others. In conclusion it is evident that the differences accounted for in sustainability were dependent not only on culture ,but also on the environment through which these actions took place.



“Country Profile, Easter Island (Rapa Nui).” Pacific Island Travel. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <;.

Diamond, Jared. “Ecological Collapses of Pre-industrial Societies.” The Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Stanford University . Stanford University, California. 22 May 2000. Lecture.

What is the difference between environmental science, ecology and environmentalism?

The definitions for environmental science, ecology and environmentalism are all placed under the same general topic concerning the nature of our environment. However, when looked at in terms of specifics, each topic is very distinct. Environmental science combines many subjects in both social and natural sciences to examine the interaction between an environment and its inhabitants. environmental scientists consider the history of interaction between the environment and its resources. They are then able to make predictions of how to better future interactions. They look at past events in order to create solutions for today’s major problems. Ecologists’ work concerns the natural resources that are available throughout an environment, such as renewable or nonrenewable. Their main focus is to study the way in which different ecosystems run, and the impact that inhabitants have on the amount of natural resources available. Environmentalists are more active in the resource studying community. Environmentalism is a social movement of people who work to preserve the world’s natural resources. These people work to find solutions for protecting and preserving these natural systems. If I had to choose, I would like to be labeled as an environmentalist. Though I am not very active in displaying my beliefs about the environment, I feel that it is important to spread the word about the seriousness of humans’ affect on the environment, and to find different ways to preserve and protect the environment.

Is there a correlation between a country’s gross national product and fertility rates?

Here is the graph that displays this!

Workbook1 (version 1) Chart1

The conclusions that can be drawn from these results are that the higher the gross national product, the lower the amount of children. This displays that those that are wealthier have fewer children and as a result those that have fewer children are wealthier. As the gross national product increased, the number of children lessened. The United States, my home country had a high gross national product. The average for this was about 2 children. The average for a low gross national product in other countries was about 3-6 children. This could be attributed to a number of factors. In poorer countries the actual need for children has more of an impact. For example, in poorer countries children form a very important part of the economic system. Children are utilized for helping out around the house, or used to complete work in order to gain more money. The more children produced the more opportunity for work and labor.Also in poorer countries there is less money available for certain types of contraceptives that prevent pregnancy which could result in more children. In wealthier countries there is less of a drive to have children. Wealthier people were more likely to have fewer children, more children could potentially mean spending more money. In turn people who have fewer children have more money, increasing the gross national product. Overall, the graph displays interesting evidence about the relationship between the countries of the worlds’ wealth, and the amount of children produced.