Ecological Footprint

 

 

assignment #2

Part A

The purpose of this assignment is to get us familiarized with the practical essence of the concepts we covered in class during the last week. We will be dealing with geographic areas and thus, implement concepts such as: latitude, topography, geographical coordinates, biomes and climate. With the help of Google Earth we will experience the practice of all such terms and in personal level, I will try to put theory into practice. In addition, I will get more familiarized with the use of Google Earth and its tools and get a chance to learn some places of interest in Thessaloniki apart from those I already know.

            To begin with, I will introduce one of my favorite places in Thessaloniki and I will explain briefly its matter of significance. The place (or area) I am referring to is simply the port of Thessaloniki or “Limani” in Greek. Limani (λιμάνι) is located in the center of Thessaloniki in the beginning of Nikis Boulevard (the main onshore street). More precisely, its coordinates are: 40°37’56.37”B and 22°56’08.87”E .

I find “Limani” a place of special interest since currently more of its warehouses are used for exhibition purposes. As a matter of fact, the International Film Festival has its exhibits hosted within the warehouses of the port for more than a couple of years.

Also there is a beautiful restaurant there from which the view of Thessaloniki is stunning. Sometimes, places like this make me feel very lucky for being a student in this city and having the chance to visit so many interesting areas. And saying of “living” in Thessaloniki, let me now introduce you to my “crib”. My apartment is also located in the center of Thessaloniki on Ippodromiou street which is from the other side of the center (east center). To simplify it to you, Ippodromiou is exactly the first parallel street to Navarinou (from the east of Navarinou). The coordinates of my place are: 40°37’47.88”B and 22°57’03.47”E.

From the coordinates we can see that Thessaloniki center has latitude of 40° (seen both in Limani’s coordinates and my place’s coordinates). As we know from the book, 40° latitude means biome: Mediterranean Woodland. The climate in this biome has no extreme diversifications (Greece, California, S. Africa, Lebanon etc). It is cool and moist during fall, winter and spring, whereas hot and dry in summer. Its soil is generally fragile, low to fertility and erosion can be severe. Places of that biome suffer from regular fires and thus trees and animals that grow and live there are adapted to drought and fire. Also, human influences are substantial and usually there is a large population growth in Mediterranean Woodland. All of these characteristics stand for Thessaloniki as well and therefore the claim of this city being a Mediterranean Woodland is perfectly sound.

Although this biome has some standards which exist in almost every place of Mediterranean Woodland, there are some slight differentiations according to the exact and precise geographical placement. For instance, Thessaloniki has indeed all the determinants of that biome but has also some characteristics of its own (as a city) which influence its local (perhaps of smaller scale) climatic changes. One of these variables is its gulf. The fact that the center of Thessaloniki is so close to water (Thermaikos sea) increases the area’s humidity. Also, the presence of water makes the cold winters slightly less bitter since the sea functions always as a heat preserver (in winter).

 Part B

Country Ecological Footprint (EF) (hectares per person) Proportion relative to world average Proportion relative to world area available Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Bangladesh 0.5 0.22 0.28 17000
Colombia 1.3 0.58 0.73(1.3/1.78) 6370
Mexico 2.6 1.16 1.46 8970
Sweden 6.1 2.73 3.43 26050
United Arab Emirates 9.9 4.44 5.56 12650
Thailand 1.4 0.63 0.78 7010
United States 9.5 4.26 5.34 35750
World Average 2.23 1.0(2.23/2.23) 1.25(2.23/1.78)  
North Korea (Asia) 1.5 0.67 0.84 16950
Brazil (Americas) 2.2 0.98 1.24 7770
Nigeria (Africa) 1.2 0.54 0.67 860
France (Europe) 5.8 2.60 3.26 26920
Me!!! 3.44 1.54 1.93  

 

From the table above, if we observe the relationship between the ecological footprints of all countries (relatively to our random sample of 12 countries), we will see that United Arab Emirates has the largest ecological footprint (9.9) whereas Bangladesh has the smallest (0.5). Also, it seems that the most common size is between 1.00 and 3.00 (Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, N. Korea, Brazil and Nigeria: 6 out of 12) and that consists 50% of the world average. In addition, Europe’s ecological footprint seems to be close to 6 (from 5 to 6) with the examples of France, Greece and Sweden. Another observation is that the US accompanied by the United Arab Emirates are the most demanding countries in ecological resources while Europe is the region to follow.

            We should not forget that the one who consumes the most is also the one that exposes the most waste to the environment. For instance, the US’s ecological footprint is 9.9 simply because the United States is one (if not “the”) most development regions of the world. Extreme development has created a situation in which people are consuming much more quickly resources than the time world needs to provide them. A similar situation holds for the United Arab Emirates. Probably after the discovery of oil in the area development increased so rapidly causing excess environmental resources.

            In contrast, Bangladesh’s ecological footprint is extremely small in comparison to the previously discussed countries. That is because, although Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries, it is also very high in poverty rates. Of course development is present but is very little in comparison to its large geographic dimensions. In addition, Bangladesh is tropic in terms of climate; fact that results the country to a plentiful growth of vegetation (and generally ecological resources).

            Finally, and by that I will explain my previous mentioning to poverty, income per capita does indeed influence countries’ ecological footprints. Our example (US vs Bangladesh) is a relevant example of that acquisition. More specifically, a country may be very dense in population and still having a much smaller impact to environmental capacity than a less dense country. That is because wealth plays a very significant role here. Wealth is what creates high development and high development is what causes extreme needs for resources. A country may be very dense but if in larger scale (majority of people) it is a poor country it will never reach that level and thus have a significantly small ecological footprint. (examples: Bangladesh, China, Korea etc)

    My Ecological Footprint – Quiz Results

= 3.44 Earths

 

…still less than the average of Greece..

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The Baka Pygmies

Yesterday evening I accidently pressed the button “3” (ET3: a local Greek channel) on my remote control and surprisingly, there was a documentary on pretty much what we were discussing in our last lecture .The documentary was about a particular tribe in the heart of the rain forests of central Africa, the tribe of “Baka”. Baka people are Pygmies who live in the rain forests of Cameroon, Gabon and Congo and consist one of the most ancient tribes. Still today, their cultural structure is based on the very ancient basic concept of survival. It seems as if technology and development never reached their communities; they hunt and fish (in their rivers) to feed themselves, their houses are built by mud and leaves and they dance to the clap of their hands.

            The peace within which they live is amazing, admirable and almost envied even by the most developed societies of this century. These people (speaking in an ancient Baka language) are explicitly depended by the nature and vice versa. Even from this impersonal means of vision one was almost convinced that Baka have acquired the impossible; a perfect, peaceful and pure coexistence between the nature and themselves. (According to the documentary these Pygmies are some the most aging people of the world!)

            Unfortunately, even these seemingly self-sufficient people, who have never and by no means been involved in the massive human exploitation of the environment, are now suffering from its consequences. A large international company of paper has recently started cutting significantly large amounts of trees in the area causing distraction not only to the environment itself but also to a whole tribe. Baka Pygmies were forced to migrate and their entire community (approximately 5000 people) moved to the further depth of the rain forest in order to survive. The paper company made the existence of Baka in the area impossible since they destroyed some of their basic resources for survival.   

            By the end of the documentary I felt extremely upset about the situation so I made some research in the internet to find out more about this tribe. I finally found a very interesting site about not only the Baka, but also other Pygmies that live in the rain forests of Africa (Bedzan, Bakola, Bakoua and Bandou are only some of them). I realized that there is really a great number of human beings still living in their ancient ways, hidden from the violent reality of our western civilization. And what is worse is that not only are these tribes completely distinct from what the rest of us is responsible for, but they have to suffer the results of our environmentally unconscious actions as well. 

            I hope that soon something will be done to protect such tribes because for the moment although they coexist with us in this world it seems as if a great majority is completely ignorant of their existence and their human part. I just felt I had to share this. If you want, you can check this website: http://www.pygmies.org/ for more detail (suggestion: check out their music). Also, you can check out wwf’s website in relevance to the Baka Pygmies in Central Africa: http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/cameroon/?uNewsID=139921

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Ecologist or Environmentalist?

                                                                              

Very often the wealth of the human language does not result in clarification rather than in confusion of the terms. One such example and relevant to our course material is the confusion between the terms: “ecologist” and “environmentalist”. Not to exclude myself, we often think of ecology in its practical form and that is what misleads us from what is the reality.

            Ecology is not the performance of an environmental act rather than the study long before the act is even decided. Instead, an environmentalist is the one who will “carry the task” and act for the benefit of the environment. The focus of the environmentalist is indeed to assist whereas the scientific study will be performed by the ecologist.

            The distinction between the two terms is clear, simply if we take into account the fact that ecology as a science does not by itself improve the environment. What it studies however are ways and methods that will lead towards a beneficial result. The result itself, or solution as we might say is an environmentalist’s act. The environmentalist is not a scientist but an active server of ecology’s essence.

            Of course, there are many cases in which these two get to cooperate for a common mission. The involvement of ecology’s science into environmental act and vice versa does not however diminish the distinction between the two. A person can nevertheless be both but then again he will have a special focus, a stronger stimuli towards one of the two terms’ applications.

            The question of which of the two I would rather be seems more difficult than the distinction of the terms. Of course the ecologist has the advance of being the beginner, like theory before practice. Haven’t there been scientists to spend hours studying in laboratories as well as on field, there could never possibly be an organized and effective act to make the changes. It is to these scientists to whom we owe whatever progress environmentalists have made today and that, should by no means be underestimated.

            On the other hand, being an environmentalist would mean being closer to the practical application of ecology and its meaning. From the environmentalist side I can imagine myself more passionate about taking actual act and I would gain the satisfaction of having more direct sight of the changes. Being an active part, even one with a small influence, to the mission of benefiting the environment would have the greatest possible impact to my spiritual satisfaction.

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About me..

   hello everyone, i am an undergraduate student at ACT (American College of Thessaloniki) majoring in management and finance. This is the 2nd year of my studies and i had to choose a science course. Initially i was planning on choosing physics since it is a science that has always striked my interest. As a matter of fact, i passed in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the physics department when i took my graduation exams with the Greek system of examination, 2 years ago. Unfortunately, i realised that physics is no longer a choice as a science course in our college and in fact, there is currently no choice at all. However and luckily for me, i had wished for ecology as a favourable alternative to physics. After all, i ended up with a course i believed had a great relationship to my major. After my first communication to the course’s material i realised that ecology is very different than what i had expected. I have now started understanding why ecology is called a science. Indeed, it is a science significantly broad both in theory and in applications. In a totaly unpredictable way, i have found a new interest in the purpose of this science. I frankly believe i will benefit from this course and although i may be ignorant in a wide range of ecological matters, i am willing to learn about them.

    Our first assignment for this course was to create this blog. To be honest, this is the first time i create a blog so this alone is an experience for me. I have to admit that this is a record for my computer skills but i will do my best to keep up with the course’s requirements. In this blog i will post a selection of article links, news, thoughts and ideas around ecology subjects, based on what might interest my classmates. Of course my main goal will be originality and hopefully i will succeed avoiding “cliches” in my posted material. Since i perceive my knowledge around ecology rather limited i would prefer to firstly get in toutch with the context of the course and later on recommend more specified topics for discussion. 

   To introduce a little bit of myself, i will start from my place of origin. I was born in Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian sea. Appart from the importance and beauty of its surrounding sea, Corfu is also rich in germination unlike most islands of the Agean. As a matter of fact it was inhabited from the prehistoric times because of its fertile land. Not rarely has Corfu been depicted as one of Greece’s green islands because of its pleanty of “green”. Its dominant green comes from the more than 3 million olive trees. (Corfu’s olive trees are different than the rest across the country because of their extraordinary hight which sometimes peaks to 10m) Moreover, there is a grand variety of flowers on the island from mimosas to almond and cherry trees. However, although Corfu has a beautiful physical topography (including the Korision Lake, the Pantokratoras mountain and of course all the small beautiful villages and beaches) it also faces serious problems. Corfu is an island, and this means that it has to dispose of its own waste. This is one of the island’s biggest problems, as there is only one landfill and it’s filling up very quickly. There have been some efforts for recycling (placing of blue garbage containers) but rumors have it that it is not taking serious action. What’s barely done is the recycling of organic materials. Only in the villages people perform organic recycling simply by feeding their animals with their food’s left overs. Given the fact that Corfu produces far more waste than it can currently absorb, the need for an integrated recycling system is imperative. As it seems i was born and grown up in a an extremely physically rich island with extremely bad management and exploitation.

   Not far from my place of origin lies a place of natural treasure. The place is called “Syvota” and is located in the mainland of Epirus. I once read in a magazine an article about Syvota where the author reffered to it as “the carribean of Greece”. I have visited the area many times and the i have to admit that the beauty of the environment is undiscribable (access is done only by boat). What the area consists of is nothing more than some little islands of absolute natural purity.

 Also, near Corfu lies another beautiful island of the Ionian sea, Zakynthos. Zankythos is also very little “toutched” by touristic exploitation and appart from its physical beauty,it is even more important for its voluntary careta-careta(turtle) resque organization. Again i have visited the place several time and it really is amazing to watch a species so close to you knowing that it may not exist for much longer.

   Currently i live in Thessaloniki and i really like this city. Although i’ve moved here primarily for my studies i admire the city’s beauty. Of course, environmentally, Thessaloniki suffers of some very serious issues such as the sea Thermaikos. Unfortunately, and i am not happy to say this, but i don’t think i have seen a sea more poluted than what i come to sight whenever i walk along the Nikis street. Some action is more than emerging to clean Thermaikos because the situation is more than threatening to Thessalonikis’ aquatic species. I don’t know what would be an ideal place for me to live in, but for the moment i am satisfied with my student life in Thessaloniki.

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