The purpose of this post is to raise our awareness on the issue of population growth and its impact on Earth, but also to familiarize us with the content explained in class and the use of formulas such as the IPAT model.

It is not a secret that the human population has increased with an extremely high rate during the last decades. Some people don’t see any problems and are sure that Earth can support a lot more people. However, others believe that the human population should be strictly controlled or it could lead to catastrophic outcomes.

Fig. 1: The graph above represents the human population growth. Source: (1)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the current human population already exceeds 6.18 billion people and is steadily moving to 7 billion. This means that we are overestimating Earth’s carrying capacity by around 30%. (2) Some of the causes that resulted in rapid population growth are the development of science and technology, increase in food production and distribution, improvements in public health and disease conquest. The use of technology resulted in expansion of food production and distribution. Besides, the access to safe drinking water and the pressure to provide adequate hosing led to progress in public health. Moreover, scientists have found ways to prevent and cure numerous diseases and reduced the death rate. (3)  All this factors, altogether, have resulted in the increase of the world population.

There are two different views on the issue of population growth.  The first one, the Cassandras’ view, predicts doom for the Earth. Most Cassandras agree with Ehrlich’s view, who” predicted that population growth would unleash famine and conflict that would consume civilization by the end of 20th century.” This didn’t happen the way he predicted, but there is some truth in what he said. Although our civilization was not destroyed, population growth has contributed to famine, disease and conflict, but whether this will lead to complete destruction is yet to be seen.
The second view on this issue, which opposes the Cassandras’ view, is the Cournucopians’ view. Many of the people who hold this view are economists, and they believe that population growth does not pose any threats if new resources can be found or created to replace the depleted ones.(4)

In my opinion the rapid growth of human population is clearly a source of problems and is a threat for the existence of our civilization. It is known that the amount of resources is limited and it is obvious that we will face serious problems if we don’t apply certain methods to reduce the growth of the human population. The growth will certainly come to an end either by the destruction of nature and the society or by right decisions that will stop the rapid growth and stabilize the population.  

Paul Ehrlich and the IPAT model

Picture 1: Paul Ehrlich

Source:(5)

Paul Ehrlich is a biologist and a professor at Stanford University. In 1968 he wrote the book “The Population Bomb”, which predicted the end of civilization by the end of 20th century. He and another professor, John Holdren of Harvard University, are also known for a formula called the IPAT. This formula is a way to calculate the impact of population and other factors on the environment. “The IPAT model represents how our total impact (I) on the environment results from the interaction among population (P), affluence (A), and technology (T). (6)

In his book, “The Population Bomb”, Paul Ehrlich predicted that population growth would lead to famine and war, which would finally bring our civilization to an end. As population growth continued in high rates, he predicted that, more resources would be depleted, and there would be less food for the people. Less food would then lead to starvation, and this could lead to war. All of these combined together, would finally lead to the destruction of our society. Although, on the one hand, his predictions that our society would be destructed by the end of the 20th century did not come true in the complete sense, during the end of the 20th century and the beginning of 21st century many parts of the world were faced with famine, disease and war, which created many problems for the world as a whole. On the other hand, during these years our world was faced with a very rapid growth in technology and the Green Revolution happened, which probably made it possible for humans to escape the doom predicted by Ehrlich, or maybe just lengthen this process.

Taking into consideration the IPAT model, The United States of America have a very big influence on Earth’s environment as they have a very advanced technology and high affluence. In addition to this, even though the US’ population is not as big as China’s or India’s it is still very big and has a big influence in the environment.
Being the country with the highest population, China, without doubt has a very big impact on our Earth. The other thing contributing to these high impact levels is its rapid growth of affluence and eventually the use of technology nowadays contributes to this impact.
Finally, both Armenia and Kosovo, being countries with a population of about 3.2 and 2.5 million respectively, having small amounts of production (very few, small factories) and not very advanced technology and its use, have a much smaller impact on the environment compared to bigger, more developed countries.

Another scientist that deals with population growth is Hans Rosling. He is a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and is the co-founder of Gapminder Foundation. What we liked more about his presentation is his method of presenting the information using the moving bubbles, which allowed us to better understand everything he was talking about. Another thing that caught our attention is his statement about using the term “developing countries”, when today some of them are even more developed that the so-called “developed countries”.

Fig. 2: Gapminder World Chart (2006) Source: (7)

Video 1: A short video explaining population growth: Source: (8)

 

Partners: Armine and Rona

 

 

References:

(1) Agrilandsales,“World Population Growth”(2008),Retrieved May 9,2011 from http://www.agrilandsales.com/opportunity-buy_bulgarian_agricultural_land.html

(2) International Programs. (n.d.). Census Bureau Home Page. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html

(3) Kinder, C. (n.d.). The Population Explosion: Causes and Consequences. Yale University. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum

(4)   Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. R. (2008). Environment: the science behind the stories. (4th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

(5) Keim, B. (2008). Paul Ehrlich. Retrieved May 9, 2011 from http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/03/ehrlich_qa

(6)  Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. R. (2008). Environment: the science behind the stories. (4th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

(7) N.d. (2008). Gapminder World Chart 2006. Retrieved May 9, 2011 from http://infovizblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/hans-rosling-and-gapminder.html

(8)  EconomistMagazine,“The seventh billion economist.com/video”(Nov 25,2010),Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAIv15fWfHg

This post is aimed to represent the meaning of such definitions as EF, GDP and GPI, find the connections and determine the effects that they have on each other.

Ecological Footprint

From the one hand it is known that humanity can’t survive without the nature. Therefore, the use of natural resources is an inevitable part of our lives. However, from the other hand, people are overestimating the Earth’s resources which can create enormous problems and lead to a deficit of resources in the near future. As a result we come up with a question. How do we know the right amount of using the resources and how much are we using now? This is where the Ecological Footprint comes to help.

Picture 1:Ecological Footprint

 Source:(1)

According to Withgott and Brennan the ecological footprint “represents the total area of biologically productive land and water needed to produce the resources and dispose of the waste for a given person or population” (2).Therefore, the ecological footprint expresses the impact of humanity on the environment. It is used by various countries to find out the pressure that they have on our planet. Besides, it is also beneficial to detect your personal ecological footprint to determine how you affect the nature individually.

The video below represents information about the EF in UAE. However it can refer to any country and person that has a big EF and desires to reduce it.

Video 1:The Ef in UAE

Source:(3)

 

GDP and GPI

      It is not a secret that the economic growth is one of the primary goals of every country. Therefore, it is obvious that there would be some indicators that would measure the economic welfare. The principal indicator that is calculated my most of the countries and taken into account when making important decisions is GDP. GDP(Gross Domestic Product) is “the total monetary value of final goods and services a country produces each year” (2). Therefore, the GDP per capita would show the average per citizen of the country and would reflect the improvements or declines in the standards of living. However it has been much proposed lately that the GDP should be replaced by GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator). GPI includes everything that GDP takes into account and adds the cost of the negative impact of the economic activity such as the environmental and social costs (2). The inclusion of such costs is the reason why GPI is considered to be a more “green” indicator than GDP. Let’s take a look at some data about GDP and GPI.

Graph 1: GDP and GPI change

Source:(2)

The graph above represents the change in GDP and GPI between 1950 and 2004 in US as the population of the US grew from 152,271,000 to 292,982,000. Let’s examine this in a more detailed way.

Comparing GDP and GPI

According to my calculations the GDP per capita between 1950 and 2004 increased by 3.421 times. At the same time the GPI per capita went up by 1.751 times. This shows that the rate of GDP’s increase is twice greater than the rate of GPI’s increase. This is due to the fact of the absence of environmental, social..costs from the GDP.

Benefits, environmental costs, and social and economic costs

The benefits, environmental costs and social and economic costs increased for 2.37, 5.09 and 4.29 times respectively. This indicates that as the costs rise with a higher rate than the benefit, the GPI won’t be able to increase as fast as GDP. As we can see the component that got the worst over these years is the environmental costs. This means that as it increases at a high rate, people damage the environment more and more.

Biocentric vs anthropocentric

From my point of view, a person with an anthropocentric view would have a higher GPI than a person with a biocentric worldview because an anthropocentric person would not take into account the effects on other living things and the environment in general as much as a biocentric person would. As a result his environmental costs would be less and the total GPI would be higher.

My Personal Accounting

My personal EF is more than 2 times smaller than the world average. However, telling that I don’t have to do anything and don’t owe anything to Mother Nature would be an exaggeration. I take into account the environmental costs and the social and economic costs as much as I can. I try to do my best to consider the environmental impact of my actions and to minimize the harmful influence on the environment.

As a conclusion I would like to say that although GDP remains the most popular index of the development of the country, it clearly has obvious disadvantages. However, changing it to GPI or any other indicator would affect numerous countries and would create a picture of the social welfare other than the one we have now.

 

References:

1. Altruworld ,“Restoring and Saving our Environment”,N.d. Retrieved 30 Apr 2011 from http://www.altruworld.com/carbon.php

2. Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. R. (2008). Environment: the science behind the stories. (4th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

3. Ayacollective,“Emirates Wildlife Society WWF: UAE Ecological Footprint”( May 19, 2010). Retrieved on 30 Apr 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPiBItRoKMI

 

We feel that making questions about each of the chapters that we have learned so far is a very good way of better understanding the concepts that are found in the book. By doing this we learn much more than we normally would, because in order to prepare the questions we need to read the book carefully and try to better understand all the different concepts, graphs and information found in the book.

As the title suggests the first chapter serves as some kind of an introduction. It defines such terms as environment and environmental science and illustrates certain environmental issues and the outcomes of human impact on the nature. It also presents one of the central terms that we have repeatedly used throughout the semester: the concept of sustainability.

1)      Which term characterizes the human impact on the environment?

       a)      Natural footstep

       b)      Environmental imprint

       c)       Ecological footprint

       d)      Collective fingerprint

2)      What is a paradigm?

                a)      A dominant view

               b)      An important scientific discovery

               c)       Sustainable use of resources

                d)      The process of analyzing quantitative data

3)      Which is not a part of the scientific method?

               a)      Questions

               b)      Peer reviews

               c)       Observations

              d)      Predictions

4)      People who predict catastrophic outcomes because of the inappropriate use of resources are called

           a)      Cornucopians

           b)      Darwinists

           c)       Environmentalists

           d)      Cassandras

5)      What is the widely-accepted explanation of cause and effect relationships that is backed up with valid evidence called?

          a)      Hypothesis

         b)      Axiom

         c)       Theory

        d)      Supposition

6)      The negative human impact on the environment might become the reason of the seventh mass extinction event.

           a)      True

           b)      False

7)      The use of resources in a way that satisfies our needs at the same time keeping them available for the future generations is called sustainable development.

          a)      True

          b)      False

8)      Match:

 

        I.            All the living and non-living things that surround us                                         

      II.            The study of how the natural world works and how the environment and humans influence each other

    III.            Social movement with a purpose to of protecting the natural world

    IV.            The global deficit of resources

      V.            The testing of the validity of a prediction or a hypothesis

a)      Environmentalism

b)      Experiment

c)       Ecological overshoot

d)      Environment

e)      Environmental science

9)      Briefly describe the scientific method(max:250 words)

10)   Discuss the improper use of natural resources and illustrate the negative outcomes we might face.

The second chapter is mainly focused on the basic knowledge about chemistry and discusses and illustrates the types of energy and energy flow. Various theories of the origin of life and explanations of the photosynthesis and cellular respiration were also the part of this chapter.

1)      What does an atom consist of?

          a)      Electrons

          b)      Protons and neutrons

          c)       All of the above

          d)      None of the above

2)      Which of the following is Glucose (C6H12O6) classified to?

          a)      Proteins

          b)      Carbohydrates

          c)       Nucleic Acids

          d)      Amino Acids

3)      Which are the two major forms of energy?

         a)      Potential and kinetic

         b)      Impending and mechanic

         c)       Chemical and electric

         d)      Potential and stimulating

4)      How is the process of using the chemical energy created during photosynthesis called?

          a)      Chemical inhalation

          b)      Compound exhalation

          c)       Cellular respiration

          d)      None of the above

5)      During photosynthesis autotrophs turn light energy into—-

         a)      Heat

         b)      Water

         c)       Kinetic energy

         d)      Chemical energy

6)      There are more than 92 elements recognized by the chemists.

         a)      True

         b)      False

7)      Earlier organisms had more complex structure and bigger body mass. However, during time they adapted to the surrounding environment and became smaller and simpler.

        a)      True

        b)      False

8)      Match

 

        I.            Atoms of the same element with differing numbers of neutrons                                         

      II.            Organisms that get energy from feeding themselves

    III.            The study of Earth’s physical features, processes and history

    IV.            The smallest units maintaining the chemical properties of an element

      V.            DNA and RNA

a)      Heterotrophs

b)      Atoms

c)       Isotopes

d)      Nucleic Acids

e)      Geology

9)      Explain the second law of thermodynamics.(max:150 words)

10)   Differentiate between photosynthesis and cellular respiration and demonstrate each process.(max:350 words).

This chapter explains the process of natural selection, describes evolution, biodiversity, extinction, ecological organizations and characteristics of population growth. It also allows us understand some fundamental concepts such as carrying capacity, limiting factors, et

1.     Speciation is—-

a.       The loss of a certain species

b.      The process by which new species are generated

c.       The physical separation of a certain species

d.      The tendency of organisms to produce more offspring than can survive

2.     Endemic species—

a.       Are only found in a particular place in the planet

b.      Are the same species found in many places in the planet

c.       Are species that no longer exist

d.      Do not face the risk of extinction

3.     Ecology is—

a.       Social movement dedicated to protecting the environment

b.      The study of how the natural world works and how the environment and humans influence each other

c.       The study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environments.

d.      The study of Earth’s physical features

4.     Limiting factors that restrain population growth are

a.       Biological

b.      Physical

c.       Chemical

d.      All of the above

5.     Extinction is—

a.       The formation of a new species in the planet

b.      The process of geographical isolations of populations

c.       The disappearance of a species from Earth

d.      The process by which the number of species within a population increases rapidly

6.     Immigration is the departure of individuals from a population.

a.       True

b.      False

7.   

                                                                                                                                            Source:(1)

  The picture above represents the uniform type of population distribution.

a.       True

b.      False

8.        Match:

        I.            Species                                         

      II.            Population

    III.            Biological evolution

    IV.            Natural Selection

      V.            Biodiversity

 

 a)      The variety of life across all levels of biological organization.

b)      An organism, population or a group of populations that share certain characteristics and freely breed with one another

c)       The process by which certain essential traits are passed on to future generations, thus altering the genetic makeup  of populations through time

d)      Genetic change in populations of organisms across generations

e)      A group of individuals of a particular species living in the same area

 

9.

                                                                                                            Source:(2)

What does the graph above represent? Briefly describe each type.(max:150 words)

10. Classify the types of speciation and explain each one briefly.(max:250 words)

The fourth chapter illustrates the types of biomes, the interactions of species inside a biome, the food chain of species and their energy levels. Moreover, it teaches us how to recognize the different biomes according to their characteristics.

1)      Herbivores are:

  1. Producers
  2. Primary consumers
  3. Secondary consumers
  4. Tertiary consumers

2)      Amensalism is:

  1. A relationship in which one organism is harmed and the other is unaffected.
  2. A relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is unaffected.
  3. A relationship in which both organisms benefit.
  4. None of the above

 

3)      Species that arrive first and colonize the new substrate are called:

  1. Resident
  2. Pioneer
  3. Keystone
  4. Endemic

4)      The geographical areas that are characterized with constant temperatures and high precipitation are called:

  1. Tropical rainforest
  2. Tropical dry forest
  3. Tundra
  4. Savanna

5)      Permafrost is:

  1. Cold water
  2. Permanently frozen soil
  3. A biome
  4. Acidic soil

6)      Detritivores and decomposers consume non-living organic matter.

  1. True
  2. False

7)      A species that has strong or wide-reaching impact far out of proportion to its abundance is called a keystone species.

  1. True
  2. False

8)       Match

        I.            Predation                                         

      II.            Mutualism

    III.            Commensalism

    IV.            Coevolution

      V.            Parasitism

a)      The relationship in which one organism depends on another for nourishment or other benefits.

b)      Long-term reciprocal process in which two or more types of organisms repeatedly respond through natural selection to the other’s adaptations

c)       The process by which individuals of one species hunt, capture, kill, and consume individuals of another species.

d)      The relationship in which two or more species benefit from interaction with one another

e)      The process through which one species benefits and the other is unaffected.

 

9)      Interpret the graph and identify the biome.(max:250 words)

                                                                                                                      Source:(3)

10)Discuss how invasive species pose threats to community stability.(max:250 words)

This chapter discusses the concepts of economic growth, well-being, and sustainability. It also describes the relations between ethics and represents the principles of various types of economics.

1)      The economics which maintains that economic growth may be unsustainable if we do not reduce population growth and make resource use far more efficient is known as:

  1. Classical economics
  2. Neoclassical economics
  3. Environmental economics
  4. centrally planned economics

2)      The total monetary value of final goods and services a country produces each year is known as:

  1. GPI
  2. GDP
  3. GNP
  4. GPS

 

3)      What type of view argues that the patriarchal structure of society, which traditionally grants more power and prestige to men that to women, is a root cause of social and environmental problems?  

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

4)      A person’s or group’s beliefs about the meaning, purpose, operation and essence of the world is known as:

  1. Culture
  2. Worldview
  3. Environmental justice
  4. Sustainability

5)      Which type of economics examines the psychological factors underlying consumer choices?

  1. Conventional
  2. 

  3. Environmental
  4. Neoclassical
  5. Mixed

6)      Conservation holds that we should protect the natural environment in a pristine, unaltered state.

  1. True
  2. False

7)      Externalities are costs or benefits that affect people other than the buyer or seller.

  1. True
  2. False

8)       Match

        I.            Ethics                                   

      II.            Utilitarian principle

    III.            Environmental justice

    IV.            Economics

      V.            Affluenza

a)      Something is right when it produces the greatest practical benefits for the most people.

b)      Consumption and material affluence often fail to bring people contentment.

c)       The study of good and bad, of right and wrong.

d)      The fair and equitable treatment of all people with respect to environmental policy and practice, regardless of their income, race or ethnicity.

e)      The study of how people decide to use potentially scarce resources to provide goods and services in the face of demand for them.

 

9)      Describe anthropocentrism, biocentrism and ecocentrism and state which one you belong to. (max:350 words)

10)   Interpret your perception of Adam Smith’s “Invisible hand” and express your opinion about it . (max:350 words)

After preparing these questions we feel that we have learned a lot more as this process took a lot of time and effort, but in the end was worth it as we are now more aware of the different ecological concepts and processes that go on in the world. This has helped us a lot, but we think that anyone who is able to answer these questions knows the content of the book and is well prepared.

References:

1)Bellarmine, “Measuring Spatial Distribution”,N.d, Retrieved March 28,2011 from http://cas.bellarmine.edu/tietjen/RootWeb/Measuring%20Spatial%20Distribution.htm

2)Britannica, “Survivorship curve” (2011). Retrieved 28 March,2011 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/575473/survivorship-curve

3)Worldwide Bioclimatic Classification System,N.d, “Climate Diagram”. Retrieved March 28,2011 from http://www.globalbioclimatics.org/plot/eg-el-to.htm

Textbook: Withgott, Jay , and Scott Brennan. Environment The Science Behind the Stories. Fourth Edition ed. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2011. Print.

It is not a secret that the whole humanity has lived and continues living within the Earth’s bounds and our existence depends on our planet’s resources. The measurement of the ecological footprint gives us an opportunity to imagine the picture of our pressure on Earth and figure out the necessary actions to support our planet and prevent the undesirable outcomes.

Defining the ecological footprint, overshoot and carrying capacity

The Ecological Footprint is defined as “the area of productive land and water ecosystems required to produce the resources that the population consumes and assimilate the wastes that the population produces, wherever on Earth the land and water is located”(1).

 Source:(2)

In other words the ecological footprint is the expression of the impact of the population on the environment. The concept of the “ecological footprint” was developed at the end of the twentieth century by environmental scientists Wackernagel and Rees. The results were extremely disappointing indicating universal shortage of resources. According to the research done in 2005 we are overestimating Earth’s resources by 30% and there is a tremendous necessity to make a start in finding sustainable solutions to improve the current situation.(3) 

Source:(4)                                                                                                                                         Source:(5)

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The two diagrams will help better understand the situation. The diagram on the left represents the humanity’s ecological footprint throughout time in billions of global hectares. The other diagram illustrates the relationship between the ecological footprint and the number of needed Earths to support the need of resources. As we can see about more than three decades ago we passed the threshold and the increased demand for the resources exceeded its supply by creating what is known as “ecological overshoot”. According to the data provided by Global Footprint Network “it takes about one year and six months to generate the ecological services (production of resources and absorption of CO2) that humanity requires in one year”(6).

Source:(10)

According to Withgott and Brennan the carrying capacity is the utmost size of the population of species that the given environment is able to sustain.(3)In other words an environment’s carrying capacity is its maximum persistently supportable load(7). Experience shows that sooner or later populations are expected to reach their carrying capacity rather than keeping on the exponential growth because of the environmental resistance. However, the answer to the obvious question when will the human population be stabilized still remains a mystery.

As we can see the ecological footprints of various countries differ from each other and each of them has its own ecological profile. Bangladesh produces the smallest ecological footprint which is around 4 times smaller than the world average ecological footprint. However examining the results of United Arab Emirates or Australia we will see that they are extremely large. I noticed that the developed countries produce much larger ecological footprints than the developing countries and I am proud to say that my country’s ecological footprint is more than 2 times smaller than the world average. After examining the table more carefully I figured out that the higher the GDP of the country, the larger its ecological footprint. My personal GPA is a little bit larger than my country’s average. Certainly, it is larger than the footprint of Bangladesh. However if I compare it to Chile or Spain it is much smaller and according to the results if everyone lived my lifestyle we would need only 0.6 Earths. The diagram above represents the EF by regions.

Source:(8)

Taking into considerations the above mentioned information I would like to conclude that our influence on our planet is exceptionally tremendous and requires taking necessary actions to obtain sustainable solutions. The ecological footprint varies from country to country and person to person due to various reasons. However we can agree that it serves as some kind of a signal and apart from measuring the impact on the environment should be recognized and used by all countries and individuals in making precise decisions.

Source:(9)

 

 

References:

1)  Ecological Footprint. (n.d.). The Sustainable Scale Project. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from http://www.sustainablescale.org

2)  Marquette Turner, Environment: What is You Ecological Footprint?(Feb 20,2011).Retrieved March 06,2011 from http://marquetteturner.com/environment-what-is-you-ecological-footprint/

 3)  Withgott, J., & Brennan, W. (2006). Energy in the natural environment: PSC 1515. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Pub., Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

4)  N.d,N.d, The Sustainable Scale Project. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from http://www.sustainablescale.org

 5)  N.d,N.d, The Sustainable Scale Project. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from http://www.sustainablescale.org

6)  August 21 is Earth Overshoot Day . (n.d.). Global Footprint Network. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from www.footprintnetwork.org

7)  Rees, W. E. (n.d.). Ecological Footprint — Revisiting Carrying Capacity:Area-Based Indicators of Sustainability. From Capitalism To Democracy. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from http://dieoff.org/page110.htm

 8)  N.d,N.d, The Sustainable Scale Project. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from http://www.sustainablescale.org

9)  Youth for a Sustainable Future Pacifika, Mission/Vision(2011).Retrieved March6,2011,from http://orgs.tigweb.org/youth-for-a-sustainable-future-pacifika

10)             Planet 2025 , “Humanity’s Footprint”,( Dec 31, 2008). Retrieved March6,2011,from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtIxguH2bpM&feature=related

    Whenever I meet the names of these islands I refer to them as the two possible scale models of our planet. The controversial outcomes of the existing civilizations on the islands can provide extremely beneficial lessons to us. Therefore, we must learn from those lessons and realize that depending on the kind of human-environment relationships we can make crucial differences in the future of our biggest Island: the Earth, which is isolated in the universe.

Easter Island is considered the most isolated island in the world(1). This is a short video about Easter island.

 Source:(2)

Nowadays Easter Island or Rapa Nui has approximately 2000 inhabitants and is considered a part of Chile. It occupies a territory of 67 square miles and has a mild climate. Grass, shrubs and hills are dominant in the area of Easter Island and most of the tree species that existed many years ago are now extinct. Although the majority of the people speak Spanish, there are some of them who speak their native language: Rapa Nui. The establishment of the airport resulted in development of some small businesses as well as construction of some hotels. However, the field that is very prosperous nowadays is tourism as Easter Island drags the attention of countless tourists who want to face the experience of the mysterious islands and its giant statues (3).                                                                          Here are some pictures representing Easter Island:

 Source:(4)    Source:(5)

Another example of existing civilization on an isolated island, which however succeeded to flourish and managed to overcome the difficulties and prevent the tragic outcomes by direct actions, is the island Tikopia.  The inhabitants of this island replaced their native trees by orchards and killed all the pigs on the island to decrease their environmental pressure. Moreover, they made some decisions such as suicides and abortion in order to avoid the problem of over-population.(6)                                                                                                                                          Here are some pictures of the island Tikopia:

 

 

Source:(7)

                                                                                                                                            Source:(8)

Discussing the reasons of the different fates of Easter Island and Tikopia I would like to mention that it can’t be a single cause and effect thing. There are some more complicated factors that contributed to the outcomes. Diamond stated that the set of particular environmental and cultural impacts could influence the results. He gave an example of rainfall claiming that on low islands such as the Easter Island the probability of deforestation is higher. At the same time he mentioned that the population of some islands made particular decisions in order to reduce deforestation(9).A major characteristic that I noticed while reading about the two islands was the presence of collective-decision-making in Tikopia. Some of those examples can be the decisions of the replacement of native trees and the killing of pigs.

Source:(10)

Taking into consideration all the above mentioned reasons and examples I came to a conclusion that the ignorance of practicing sustainability on the Easter Island played a crucial role in the rapid collapse of the society. I am not sure about the situational awareness of the inhabitants of Easter Island; as a matter of fact it doesn’t make any difference in concluding that the human impact on the environment can have extremely contradicting outcomes depending on the involvement of sustainable behaviour. And the fact that nowadays we realize that we entirely depend on our earthly resources and comprehend the catastrophic potential of our inconsiderable use of natural resources makes our responsibility even greater. However there is an immense advantage that I encountered we have compared to the people living on Easter Island. We have the possibility of learning from their mistakes. Moreover, the example of Tikopia proved that the environmental and societal crush isn’t inevitable. The wrong human actions of Easter Island resulted in environmental disaster which led to social and economic collapse. However, the right actions on Tikopia ended with stabile and peaceful civilization. We have to choose which path we are going to take.

References:

1) Duda, Jr., Franklin, T., & Taehwan, L. (2009). Isolation and population divergence of a widespread Indo-West Pacific marine gastropod at Easter Island. Marine Biology, 156.6 , 1193-1202. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from the Academic Search Premier. EBSCO database.

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

3) Waldron, S. (n.d.). Travel, Technology and Reviews. Travel, Technology and Reviews. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from http://www.apj.co.uk

4) Parker, Ian. “Tahai – Moonset silhouette”. N.d. Retrieved 22 Feb,2011 from http://parkerlab.bio.uci.edu/pictures/photography%20pictures/tahai_eyes%20moonset%20sillhouette.jpg

5)Earth Observatory. “Easter Island (Rapa Nui). N.d. Retrieved 22 Feb. 2011 from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=5366

6) Crowdy, J., & Erickson, J. (2000, August). Resource Use, Institutions, and Sustainability: A Tale of Two Pacific Island Cultures. Land Economics, 76, No. 3 , 345-354 . Retrieved February 21, 2011, from the JSTOR database.

7) Mackley,Geoff. “Tikopia Island after cyclone Zoe”.N.d. Retrieved 22 Feb. 2011 from http://www.atomvoyages.com/articles/tikopia.htm

8 ) Mackley,Geoff. “Tikopia”.N.d. Retrieved 22 Feb. 2011 from http://www.atomvoyages.com/articles/tikopia.htm

9)Diamond, Jared. (2000).  Ecological Collapses of Pre-industrial Societies. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://www.tannerlectures.utah.edu/lectures/documents/Diamond_01.pdf

10)Natural Patriot.Nd.Nd.Retrieved 22 Feb.2011 from http://naturalpatriot.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/earth-hands.jpg

Assignment 1

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Assignments

Personal Information

       Hello! My name is Armine. I am a freshman at the American College of Thessaloniki and my major is business.

      I was born in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. Armenia is situated in the southern part of the Transcaucasus. It is a mountainous country with several rivers. The forests cover up around 13% of the territory of Armenia.  The highest point in Armenia is the mountain Aragats (4090m). The number of the mountain lakes in Armenia exceeds 100. The most famous and the biggest lake is Sevan. The mountains block the climatic influences of the Black sea and the Mediterranean creating seasonal variations. The summers are usually hot with the temperature exceeding 30°C. Winters, on the other hand, are rather cold with the temperature below 0°C.

Here are some pictures of Armenia

 

“Sisian region, Spandaryan lake view”.Photo.14 Feb 2011.enjoyarmenia.com/archives/161

 “Ararat”.Photo.14 Feb 2011.http://www.mountararattrek.com

 

As most of the countries in the world, Armenia too, has loads of environmental problems nowadays. The environmental crisis of 1991-1993, caused by the blockade by Azerbaijan, was followed by numerous demonstrations and creation of various environmental protection programs and laws. One of the significant issues is considered the level of the water of the Lake Sevan. During the crisis of 1991-1993, the water of Sevan was much used for lots of purposes one of them being the creation of electric power. As a result, the level of the water was dropped till the critical point. To prevent tragic outcomes, a tunnel was built which allowed the water from the river Arpa to flaw to the Lake Sevan. It made the situation a lot better, however, this didn’t solve the problem entirely and it still exists.

    I believe that the main purpose of my blog is to raise the awareness of environmental issues. Moreover, the blog gives me the opportunity to express my point of view in a public way, at the same time seeing other people’s opinions and ideas concerning numerous issues.  I think that nowadays the majority of people know about the importance of the problems of the surrounding environment as they are much spoken about. However the lack of action doesn’t give space for any progress in this field. Therefore, I hope that this blog will create a possibility of increasing the participation of people in taking a little step forward to the healthy and unpolluted environment.

      It is not a secret that there are various environmental issues nowadays and some of them have a catastrophic potential.  In my opinion the pollution of the environment is one of the extremely important problems. It can have very serious and tragic outcomes and even become a threat to the existence of people. That’s why it is highly necessary that we not only find out the roots of the problems and the problems themselves, but also realize their importance and try to create solutions to them. Therefore, I would like to discuss some solutions to the existing environmental problems.

       Recently, I have heard much about one of the global environmental issues: global warming. The temperature of the Earth is slowly but surely increasing which can affect numerous aspects of our lives and result in the loss of the balance of the nature. There are already noticeable changes that are expected to become even faster. The Arctic and the Antarctic are getting warmer causing the ice in the sea to melt and increase the level of the sea-water. Most of the people and animas living in the North will be directly affected. The sea-level rise will have a negative impact on the freshwater and will create countless problems in most of the countries. Therefore, global warming is one of the most widely-discussed issues nowadays and we must do everything to prevent the undesired effects on the natural environment and human society.

      Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece and living here, as in every other part of the world, has its advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, one of the privileges of living in Thessaloniki is the presence of sea. The sea has a positive impact on the climate making it mild. Besides, it is always a great pleasure to go and swim in summers and enjoy the sea-food. The mild climate creates favourable conditions for agricultural activity. As a result, there is a great variety of fruit and vegetables that cannot be grown in many other countries. The dry and rather warm winters are one of the advantages of living here, especially for me, as I am from a country where the every-year snowfalls in winter are inevitable. At the same time there are three main disadvantages that I encountered for me. First of all I faced the problem of drinking water. I come from a country where there is a sufficient supply of drinkable water that is filtered in a natural way and there is no need to have water filters at home or buy water. Moreover, we have countless tall stones with running water in the streets everywhere in Armenia, and you can go and drink water whenever you want to. Humidity is the second disadvantage of living in Thessaloniki. As every other place situated on the shore of the sea, Thessaloniki also has much humidity which can have many negative effects. Finally, the third disadvantage, which is a problem in most of the cities in the world, is the pollution. Water and air pollution are the major and unavoidable issues of this problem. As a conclusion I would like to say that there is no ideal place to live in this world and we should try to make the place where we are living better and cleaner.

Here are some of the pictures of Thessaloniki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Thessaloniki-sunset”.Photo.14 Feb 2011. http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Greece/Macedonia/Thessaloniki/Thessaloniki/photo127410.htm

“White tower of Thessaloniki”.Photo.14 Feb 2011.http://www.123rf.com/photo_5453477_white-tower-at-thessaloniki–greece.html

 

 

The differences between an ecologist, environmental scientist and environmentalist

    According to the textbook the purpose of the environmental scientists is to figure out the way the natural systems operate and understand what impact they have on human society and vice versa. Finding solutions to the environmental issues might also be considered one of the characteristics of environmental scientists. At the same time ecologist is more focused on the interaction between the living things and the environment.  The environmentalism is a social movement that is dedicated to the protection of our surrounding environment. It is not necessary to have specific knowledge about the environment to be an environmentalist. A person with a profession from another field might be an environmentalist due to his concerns about the nature. Being an environmentalist doesn’t require studying the environmental issues. Simply caring about them is enough. Studying them is mostly the job of the environmental scientists. I would describe environmentalism as more subjective than environmental science and ecology as objectivity is required for the scientists.  Although I find environmental science and ecology to be very attractive, environmentalism is the closest of all to me. It is very important to realize the importance of the environment and its impact on human society. I hope that people all around the world will realize the danger and risk that we have put the nature into. I myself would like to participate in any organized activities for the environmental protection. In my opinion much depends on our choice. And the outcomes in the following decades and centuries may vary depending on the choice we make.

 

Hypothesis

If I was a plant ecologist and while making my observations I would come up with a particular area in central Greece where there is an absence of trees, first of all I would try to make a hypothesis which might answer the questions that had arisen. After making the hypothesis that periodic fires may prevent tree seedlings from becoming established in grassland I would start making particular predictions about what will happen after I start testing my hypothesis. I would definitely apply to the scientific method to test my hypothesis. I might make a research about whether there has been fire in that particular area or not. The negative answer suggests the falseness of my hypothesis. If the answer is positive I will continue further with my investigation. I might do some experimental observations or travel to a place where there have been recent fires and compare the outcomes. However, in my opinion, the hypothesis seems to be incomplete. I think periodical fires might be one of the reasons of the absence of trees. At the same time there may be other factors that contributed to the following result and I don’t consider and observe them. I think that it is almost impossible for a single cause to create the result in ecology. Therefore, I will also consider other possible causes that might have had their impact on the absence of trees in that particular area.