Posts Tagged ‘consumption’

World Environment Day 2018

Written by Aina on . Posted in News & Updates, Take Action

#BeatPlasticPollution World Environment Day 2018

Plastic is everywhere in our daily lives and that is a huge problem. Look around and you’ll find it. In your bathroom, in your kitchen, at your school or office, in hospitals, shops, cars, or even in your garden. Yes, in your flower pots for example.

It’s omnipresent in things and objects we use everyday that we don’t even notice. It’s in our tea bags, in our clothes, in our personal care products, in children’s toys, in our mobile phones, in food wrappers, etc. It has become so essential in our lives that if you think about it, it’s hard to imagine our life without plastics.

Sadly, plastic is also omnipresent in our environment. It has been found in the deepest part of the ocean, trapped in Arctic sea ice, inside a whale’s stomach, in tap water, floating in rivers and huge patches in the ocean, and most probably it is already present in our food chain.

How much proof then, do we need to realize that we have become so dependent on plastics that we are drowning our ourselves and the planet in them? What can we do to end this toxic addiction that is polluting our environment, affecting our wildlife and damaging our own health?

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Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2012. Photo by Enny Nuraheni/Reuters

The big problem: lots of single-use plastic and almost no recycling.

Globally every year around 300 million tons of plastic is produced. Some estimate that is roughly the equivalent to the weight of the entire world population! Half of it, designed to be used only once and then thrown away. Food trays,  bottles, straws, shopping bags, cutlery, cups, sanitary products, packaging film, you name it. Just look around and you’ll find it. In fact, the abuse of single-use plastic has become so excessive that individuals around the world are posting in social media photos of ridiculous packaging to demand corporations and retailers to reduce this type of throwaway plastic.

At the same time the production of more durable plastics has diminish and the trend has been towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. This, combined with almost no recycling, and you have the ecological disaster we are facing.

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How did this happened?

Although plastics have only been massed produced for the last 60 years our consumption has grown exponentially. By the 1990s plastic waste generation and similarly plastic production, more than tripled in just 20 years. At the same time the recycle rate of plastic has been extremely low. In fact just 9% of all plastic waste EVER produced has been recycled! The other 12% has been incinerated, while the rest 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment, whether a river, the sea, or on land.

And precisely because of the characteristics that have made plastic such a convenient and widely use material (durability and versatility), are the same reasons why every single piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists today. Surely it’s not the original same shape, size or color but it is certainly there. Plastics are so durable and hard to biodegrade that they can persist in the environment for decades or even centuries!

Source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

An ocean of plastic

You must have seen in social media pictures and videos that show how drastically polluted with plastics our seas and oceans are. Worldwide, plastics make-up the most common type of marine litter found in the ocean. In fact, plastic has become an inherent part of the marine environment. Annually it has been estimated that around 8 million tons of plastics end up there, which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute! As such it’s not hard to imagine the predicted scenario that by 2050, the ocean will  have more plastics than fish.

Almost all plastic found in the ocean is originated in-land and in coastal regions but because of poor waste management practices it ends carried by rivers or blown by air into the sea. Once in the ocean, plastics accumulate with other types of marine debris in huge floating patches like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or wash up on the coasts, while light resistant plastics break down into smaller pieces called microplastics that continue to float, sink into the ocean floor or get ingested by marine animals.

static1.squarespace.com Keeping_track_of_ocean_plastic

Beat Plastic Pollution – World Environment Day

The huge dimension of the plastic pollution crisis has reached a tipping point in public awareness.  Individuals and organizations worldwide are calling for action to stop plastic pollution. Corporations, businesses and governments are starting to take steps to tackle the issue, by banning certain items like plastic bags or by substituting plastics with reusable, recyclable, or compostable materials.

All this is a good sign but the truth is that we need to do more. Each of us has to do more to “Beat Plastic Pollution”, as the chosen theme for World Environment Day 2018 says.

There are so many things we can do to help end plastic pollution and not just today but everyday. Join the worldwide movement and start taking concrete steps to #BeatPlasticPollution.

Get some inspiration with these simple ideas and remember to share yours and spread the word.

  • Carry your own reusable water bottle or coffee mug
  • Say NO to plastic straws
  • Bring your own shopping bag to the supermarket
  • Don’t use or buy products with microbeads – check for Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and/or Nylon (PA).
  • Pick up any plastic you see the next time you go for a walk
  • Participate in community clean-up events
  • Never flush any kind of plastic down the toilet
  • Choose package-free foods or with biodegradable packaging
  • Switch liquid soap with soap bars
  • Avoid synthetic fabrics
  WED2018 EN_FC

For sources and more information check:

http://www.dw.com/en/six-data-visualizations- that-explain-the-plastic-problem/a-36861883

https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/beat-plastic-pollution/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/19/more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-sea-by-2050-warns-ellen-macarthur

http://www.cleanwater.org/problem-marine-plastic-pollution

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html

http://www.cleanwater.org/problem-marine-plastic-pollution

Beyond Samba and Soccer

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action, Uncategorized

With the soccer fever at its peak, Brazil the 5th largest country in the world and the largest in South America hosting the mega event, is experiencing disapproval for spending so much money on the sports extravaganza sidelining major priorities like health, education and housing for the Brazilian people.

BRAZIL-WORLDCUP-05-05-2014-03-05-58-454Photo Source: Google

My fascination for this country is not new. It was the first country I traveled to when I was 18 years old. Experiencing the rich culture, the diversity it has to offer, the beats of samba and bossa nova, the magnificent beaches unfolding secrets of the country, Brazil did come a long way after years of colonization and military dictatorships.

Luckily I had an opportunity to visit Brazil again after six long years and to be honest I was welcomed just as before. I felt as if I have returned to a place I knew so well whether it was sitting on Copacabana beach sipping the guarana, going for strolls in Rio or exploring Rio Grand du Sul. Having known little Portuguese I did manage to communicate with the locals and this is what I loved the most about that place. To me Brazil is the many loving people I came across during my visits, listening to their stories and seeing their smiles and resilience made me learn a lot from them.

To be honest seeing the protests on television made me feel terrible. I agree polar extremes exists everywhere but why the insane expenditures on a sporting event. All these governments talk about austerity at some point so why not in sports. Seeing the football nation not happy with “futebol” (football in Portuguese) this time was sad. Football is the religion of Brazilian people and you can see them playing everywhere, in the streets and on the beaches people from various segments of society come together to play. Brazil has won five FIFA World Cup titles hence becoming the most successful national team in the history of World Cup. Interestingly it is the only country that has taken part in all FIFA World Cups since 1930 scoring the most goals and with most wins in the history of competition. The favelas have produced some amazing soccer players and that is the spirit of sports. It brings nations and people together rejoicing in the victory and feeling sad about the defeat. But for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil it is more than that, there is revulsion and discontent seen in many people.

Brazil Confed Cup ProtestsPeople protesting against the World Cup

Photo Source: Google

For the World Cup, Brazil has spared no expenses. For the month long competition there will be 64 matches held in 12 cities across Brazil. The cost incurred on refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost 3.6 billion dollars. After the World Cup several of the new stadiums will be seldom used. If we look at the South Africa World Cup debacle, stadiums that cost a fortune are not being used as people can’t afford it. The displaced persons in South Africa are still struggling for housing. Countries when thinking about hosting such mega sports events should take into consideration their social and economic well being not giving in to corruption along with many organizations and multi nationals associated with it.

This World Cup is undoubtedly extremely costly for Brazil costing 62 million dollars on each match. Moreover displacing the poor, the Brazilian government is holding this event at the cost of unemployed, underemployed and neglected citizens.

EPAPhoto Source: Google

When talking about sustainable development the situation mentioned above does not convey the message of Rio+20 UN Earth Summit. Ironic as it is the country hosting the UN Earth Summit, gathering various UN bodies to talk about Millennium Development and Sustainable Development Goals for the world did resign when it came to staging a short term show which was less about joy and more about profits favoring just a few. The nexus is clear; a portion of the billions spent on cosmetic projects could have cured the ills plaguing the country. Sadly the millions of tourists pouring billions of dollars into the nation’s economy and giving a blank check to the country’s Sports Minister will not benefit the communities that gave us Romario, Pele and Rivaldo nor will it help in improving the quality of life of millions of poor and working class of Brazil.

Now the question is when will the governments start thinking about the millions of poor people in the country and not just give importance to a few billionaires? The Brazilian government could have taken provisions that not only benefited the few billionaires but also the many homeless living in the streets, largely young protesters , coming from working class backgrounds instead of hiding them and their demands from the world’s gaze. Brazil doesn’t need to market itself to the world with a misleading image, thanks to the media these days. A country that promises fun and sun, carnival and sun kissed smiles personifying this beautiful South American nation cannot be hidden from the world anyway.

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Photos Source: cartoon movement.com

I remember reading about the London Olympics in the year 1948 known as the real austerity Games. The government during that time was determined to do the Games on the cheap. Well despite the austerity and so called raggedness it was considered a success and did make profit too. Looking at the economic backdrop from that period we can spot similarities, a world economy in trouble, why certain measures can’t be taken that benefit the larger community especially the segments that suffer the most because of the excessive spending?

Besides the protesting youth the heroes of yesterday like Romaria and Rivaldo coming from humble beginnings to hoist the World Cup in 1994 and 2002 respectively also criticize the government’s exorbitant expenditures. For Romario serving as a congressman in Rio de Janeiro and a World Cup dissenter, the C.B.F (Brazilian soccer federation) is a “disgrace”. According to him corruption in football be it C.B.F or FIFA is the reason for all evil. Yes for all those people coming out in the streets with loud demonstrations, the World Cup is about donning the canary yellow outfit and cheering for their country rejoicing in the much loved game, for them it is not about multimillion dollar stadiums or being sidelined by the social, economic and political injustices.

While trying to get the views of my friends, most of them were just excited about the game, enjoying the reverie like myself. I have also put a facebook profile picture donning the yellow Brazilian T-Shirt. It is not that they are not for sports or for that matter soccer, the reason why most are unhappy is very clear.

“The overall Brazilians could never afford a FIFA ticket; small bars who would transmit the games have to pay absurd fees to FIFA, making it impossible to be done. In a nutshell, this is it. This world cup is not for us, at all, just for some rich alienated foreigners. The nations may be coming together, but at the cost of our blood and homes. If this is the price, I really rather to keep them apart and our children alive.”

 Leticia Zenevich

“They could organize a real world cup, as will be done with the European championship soon. In several countries in stadiums that already exist, so that millions don’t have to be spent on stadiums as in Manaus, that is going to host, how many, 4 games?”

Rodolfo Pedro Sello

“A short term revenue generation /immediate job creating action through a FIFA World Cup vs a long term sustainable development through investment in health n education. You tell me what should be priority and a much more solid option?”

Taimur K Bandey

“General discourse has two general tendencies, these days: 1) Elitist and fewer representatives 2) Non-elitist and more representatives. You are right but for “bigger” picture you need to study about contemporary economic models, of how trillions are spent on defense and when it comes to giving shelter, governments cant find a penny, about how billions are spent in festivals and when it comes to improving social conditions of under-privileged, we can’t find a penny and so forth. It was not event specific. If a World Cup had to happen in Brazil, it should have catered for local sensitivities and address them instead of putting a superficial exhibit of billions lost in entertainment (for the privileged)”

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

 The protests clearly demonstrate that this World Cup is not going to be a feast of national unity, putting on a temporary great show setting aside the grievances of many people. Sad to see that instead of becoming a feel good moment of national pride this event was commercially and politically exploited to a great extent.

So who should be held accountable? Definitely the ruling government blinded by the money pouring in for their personal good and these big corporations. FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, is a non governmental organization founded in 1904. FIFA is responsible for administering the World Cup and other international competitions of international football. The organization located in Switzerland is marred with allegations and accusations of corruption and money laundering. FIFA is also criticized for its lack of accountability and transparency. Seeing the grievances of general public of hosting nations the accountability of FIFA matters when it comes to the business of football and governance of sports. Effective governance of such institutions is important and a matter of general public interest. It is interesting that the wealthy nations preach and talk about democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency but when it comes to practising these ideals we look for backroom deals.

 Just to avoid similar sentiments in the future it is important to pay heed to where the problem lies and try to find a solution. It is not just about World Cup, when it comes to Olympics we see similar behavior filtering out the realities of life. The life of under privileged, we don’t consider important. Yes they are important only during the time of elections, when we beg for their votes, making false promises.

 Time and again FIFA demonstrated that it has no fiscal, hierarchical, supervisory and public reputational accountability. Efforts to reform FIFA from within or as a consequence of public pressure, media and watchdog organizations can result in a positive change.  Moreover as FIFA doesn’t fall under the relevant jurisdiction for corruption policing, accountability needs to be indirectly applied by national and international governments such as European Union or European Council. There should also be a legal accountability through regulation and enforcement of legislation on FIFA’s marketing partners. International Olympic Committee does set a precedent by showing the importance of multiple mechanisms of accountability working in harmony.

 FIFA and the member organizations and confederations do have the ability to be an actual force in change.  FIFA deals with more countries than the United Nations and interestingly these countries are more responsive to FIFA’s policy change than UN. With transparent and good governance in sports things might not look bleak as it look today.

Brazilian-artist-BoneA graffiti artist in Brazil

Photo Source: Google

As FIFA continues to make more money it is time that the demands of the protesters in the streets should be heard too. FIFA needs to be careful in this matter to avoid their legacy being tarnished.  With the growing criticism all the people involved in this show can’t hide anymore behind the false do good publicity stunts.

We are not against sports, we never were. We are against the use of sports as a cudgel of putting an over the top, pompous show. Use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse is what we are against. We definitely don’t want capitalism to seep into the things we love including “futebol”. Count everyone in your celebration next time as everyone living on this planet wants to enjoy life.

 world-cup-2014-brazil-soccer-footballPhoto Source: Google

Earth Day Sends a Message

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Regions, Take Action, Upcoming Events

  tumblr_lv1vn0FMdo1qek3gjo1_500Photo Source: Google

While watching the movie Avatar for me one striking element in the movie was The Tree of Souls. A giant willow tree the closest connection to Eywa, mother goddess for the Na’vi people of densely forested habitable moon, Pandora. The tree had spiritual significance for the Na’vi people. In the movie the destruction of the Tree of Souls would prove disastrous to Na’vi people as a whole, creating a void that would decimate the race in its entirety. Avatar to me did seem a love letter to the glory of nature and humanity.

You must be thinking why on earth I am talking about Avatar, well the answer lies in the fact that 22 April is the International Earth Day celebrated worldwide in support of environmental protection. . For the first time Earth Day was celebrated on 22 April, 1970 mobilizing millions of people from all walks of life and led to the launching of many environmental movements including Earth Day Network. For some people tree plantation might be an epitome of environmental cliché. But I do believe that a nation’s wealth lies in its rivers, forests, oceans, scenic beauty and wildlife. This is all we have. The biological systems are in fact the whole economy sustaining world’s wealth. With the world now becoming highly industrialized giving preference to cutting down of trees so that big shopping malls can take its place arguing that it leads to development, I somehow can’t fathom this equation of development. Cutting down of trees has led to global warming for which it is important to understand the greenhouse effect. We don’t want to stop economic progress that could give millions better lives. Insisting on sustainable development that combines environmental care, economic growth and social justice is the need of the time. Unrestricted growth cannot be supported by our planet.  

Coming back to the greenhouse gases particularly carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is damaging to the environment. With an excess of these gases by human inventions, the greenhouse effect is accelerating and this is causing the rise in temperature that we have been experiencing in the last two centuries. We might not see a red flag here yet but the effects it has on the environment and the organisms that live in it are detrimental. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and it’s concentration has hit 402 ppm this month and alarmingly that is the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years. Doesn’t this lead to raise a red flag? Many plants and animals cannot adapt to temperature changes in the environment letting them to become some endangered and others extinct. The trees play a vital role in the carbon cycle. The more trees we have, the less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the more oxygen there is to be consumed by the species that inhabit the Earth. Wasn’t it the oxygen that makes life a miracle on the planet Earth compared to the rest of the planets? We live in an age where carbon dioxide is profuse in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide released through human innovations, such as automobiles, industries, and power plants is damaging and we should do something about it before it gets late. More than ever trees play a significant assigned role in the environment and take some of the excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Unfortunately, deforestation does not let this to happen and with millions of trees cut down each year r various purposes, the amount of carbon dioxide is rising day by day causing average temperature to rise. Ultimately this leads to global warming and its effects are evident now.

Someone rightly said better be late than never. If we do conserve our existing supple of trees we can play our part in securing a better future. So no matter how clichéd it sounds planting a tree, loving our natural reserves, protecting it is essential. We need to think about deforestation.

While watching the movie Avatar and how sacred the trees especially Tree of Souls was for the inhabitants did remind me of Chipko (Hugging) movement. Started in early 1970s the Chipko movement was a non-violent resistance through the act of hugging trees and protecting the trees from being cut down.  Using the Gandhian methods, the movement to protect trees with rising deforestation awareness led to peasant women from the village Rani Khet, India taking an action and reclaiming their traditional forest rights. Their actions inspired many others throughout the region at the grassroots level. The movement had spread throughout India by 1980s that led to the formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to openly cutting down trees in the region. The movement originated in 1970s is an inspiration for many environmentalists where a group of women peasants got together to make a difference. Their efforts cannot ne ignored or forgotten. Today while celebrating Earth Day I want to acknowledge this movement that was started in a small village to save the trees. It was started at a time when there was less talk about protecting environment. Loving something does ignite passion in people that can make them do wonders.

Many have united today who feel for trees the same way the peasant women of Chipko movement or Na’vi people of Pandora planet did. Just love it and then you will feel the need to protect it. Among many Earth Day Network did step forward adding another drop in the ocean with a hope to educate and inspire. After the first Earth Day in 1970 many environmental laws soon followed. The various acts made it biding on the law to protect the environment and everything therein. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) now works with thousands of partners in 192 countries to positively take forward the environmental movement. Millions of people now participate in Earth Day activities each year that makes it the largest civic observance in the world.

Over the last 40 years, Earth Day Network has executed innumerable successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging from drinking water and climate change to saving the whale and many others. To tackle new challenges Earth Day Network created innovative programs with non-environmental partners that were engaging and participatory. EDN’s extensive activities, whether promoting green economic policies or green schools at home or abroad is concerned do inform populations instilling in them the energy to act for a healthy future for themselves and their children. Working with partner organizations Earth Day Network does provide civic engagement opportunities at local, national and international levels. Earth Day Network works to broaden the definition of environment that is inclusive of well being of an individual promoting a sustainable future. This includes creating green jobs, green schools and protecting the environment by stopping air and water pollution. There is a dire need to raise awareness on these issues when many are blinded by the false definition of development, where the shiny and big industries act as eyewash and an epitome of success and prosperity. By no means does this statement reflect that I am against economic growth but too much of everything is bad, we can’t mess with the nature as it’s results would be detrimental, we have already started to experience it’s wrath and it’s time to be aware and act accordingly.

One of the initiatives that did strike me was Avatar Home Tree Initiative. The reason why it struck me maybe was my fancy for the movie Avatar and importance of tree plantation. And this campaign did reflect that interestingly. The Avatar Tree Initiative was a great success and did exceed it’s original objectives aimed at sustainable development and environmental protection. With seventeen partner organizations together with the dedication of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment thousands of trees were planted in six continents. Involving thousands of people these tree planting projects benefitted tens of thousands of people and continue to profit the global environment and all it’s dwellers. To see such projects flourish and affect millions does give hope. We don’t need to belong to the planet Pandora to feel for the trees. These tree planting projects did develop despite the current challenges of natural disasters and depressed international economy.

To protect environment for all people and protect the natural lands The Canopy Project undertaken by Earth Day Network does catch one’s attention. Planting trees to help communities especially the impoverished communities to help them sustain themselves and their communities is an initiative that deserves praise. Instead of focusing on large scale forestry EDN started by reaching out to local communities keeping in mind the think big and start small approach. It is no surprise that the under privileged needs more attention and help as when the atrocities strike they are the ones most affected by it. Ironic as it might sound nature doesn’t keep track of the rich and poor and no one can be saved from it’s rage. Giving priority to the impoverished communities and making them plant trees to achieve environmental sustainability is a positive step. Trees not only filter the air but also provide food, income and energy thus helping the communities economically too.

The reality is that unpredictable weather patterns are increasing and are more frequent. We have been experiencing violent storms and floods. Trees not only help take excessive carbon dioxide from the air but also help to prevent soil erosion that has led to devastating floods. It is true that first line of defense against global warming is planting more trees. We definitely need to go green and that is why in 2012, Earth Day Network made a commitment with the Global Poverty Project to plant 10 million trees in impoverished areas of the world over the next five years. This commitment needs to become a reality and with perseverance and help from everyone it can become a reality.

The Canopy Project has planted over 1.5 million trees in 18 countries over the past three years. In many states in the US, projects to restore urban canopies have been completed. In Haiti alone Earth Day Network planted 500,000 trees. The earthquakes causing landslides on deforested hillsides that led to horrific devastation in Haiti s known to everyone. In many high poverty districts in Uganda EDN planted 350,000 trees providing local farmers with food, fuel and stability of soil. The Canopy Project of the Earth Day Network has been active around the world. In Australia, Landcare Australia working with national parks and land care groups focused on areas with endangered animal species.  In Belgium, Vereniging voor Bos in Vlaanderen  or Organization for Forests in Flanders worked with private landowners  to afforest their properties to fight the environmental effects of intensive livestock and agricultural production. In Brazil SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation worked with local communities to plant innate trees as a means to restore one of the most biologically diverse Atlantic Forest. In Canada, Tree Canada joined the Avatar Home Tree Initiative to restore pine forest that was devastated by 2005 hurricane. In France,  Kinomé’s Trees & Life program helped young children in southern France to plant their own trees. Kids of the same age in Senegal planted two trees for every tree planted by children of France fostering global reforestation and intercultural awareness. In Germany, The Berlin Energy Agency’s and Club-E  planted trees in southern Berlin as part of its mission to raise awareness about sustainable development among young people. In Italy, San Giovanni community and municipality in Persiceto worked on the Cassa Budrie reforestation project that helped to promote local water security and prevent soil erosion. In Japan a tailored tree-planting at a Japanese school provided students and teachers the opportunity to plant trees on their campus and engage in related green schools activities. In Mexico, Sierra Gorda Ecological Group (SGEG) has been working since 1987. The SGEG worked with local communities and farmers to plant trees directly benefiting local communities restoring watersheds. In The Netherlands, Stichting wAarde or the Earth Value Foundation worked with local young prople to plant trees in Amsterdam and Utrecht. In Spain, Plantemos Para el Planeta planted trees in southeastern Costa del Sol, which was destroyed by wildfire in 2009. In Sweden, Under Sweden’s Skogen i Skolan or Forest in School program, various trees in northeast Sweden were planted by teachers and students.

Supported by and carried out in partnership with nonprofit tree planting organizations throughout the world like some examples stated above Earth Day Network is slowly moving towards it’s goal of planting 10 million trees within the period of five years. Many sponsors and individual donations have also contributed in making this project a success. Working in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Billion Trees Campaign Earth Day Network does wish to contribute positively towards the green movement.

We need to protect our Tree of Souls to continue living in a sustainable world. The Na’vi people of Pandora planet did win in the end. Looking at reality rather than fiction does make me say that we can do that too. Interestingly Avatar was released on Earth Day in 2010 which wasn’t a coincidence. Avatar has inspired a worldwide tree-planting campaign, that involves a million trees in 15 countries and that campaign is The Canopy Project of Earth Day Network. Avatar aligning with Earth Day Network is also a deliberate attempt to press for the need of planting more trees. After the film James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver went to the Amazon rainforests and they have been talking about the importance of preserving the environment. Film is an important medium to spread the message using an entertaining tool and it’s about taking everyone along, people from all walks of life to make a positive change.

It should also be kept in mind that narrowing the focus on global warming and losing the broader focus of protecting life on this planet can lead to adverse outcomes. It should be about protecting the forest as an effort to sustain the world’s biodiversity. It is important to look at what is causing the rise of carbon dioxide targeting the current energy system to curb this crisis. It is important to look at all the aspects rather than looking to forests only to solve the current climate crisis.

NB: Nektarina Non Profit is the official partner of Earth Day Network since 2010

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Think, Eat, Save: UNEP, FAO and Partners Launch Global Campaign to Change Culture of Food Waste

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, Green Economy, News, Publications, Take Action

(shared post)

In developed regions around 300 million tonnes of food is wasted annually because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption     Geneva, 22 January 2013 – Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners.

The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.

The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices. Think.Eat.Save. aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal (www.thinkeatsave.org) for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world. Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain. “In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away,” he added. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.” “Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives. In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.” “If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” Graziano da Silva added. The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures, some of which follow:  
    • More than 20 per cent of all cultivated land, 30 per cent of forests and 10 per cent of grasslands are undergoing degradation;
 
    • Globally 9 per cent of the freshwater resources are withdrawn, 70 per cent of this by irrigated agriculture;
 
    • Agriculture and land use changes like deforestation contribute to more than 30 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions;
 
    • Globally, the agri-food system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of end-user available energy;
 
  • Overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish, some 30 per cent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited.
Part of the trigger for the campaign was the outcome of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, in which Heads of State and governments gave the go-ahead for a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns. Developing an SCP programme for the food sector must be a vital element of this framework, given the need to sustain the world’s food production base, reduce associated environmental impacts, and feed a growing human population.   “There can be no other area that is perhaps so emblematic of the opportunities for a far more resource-efficient and sustainable world – and there is no other issue that can unite North and South and consumers and producers everywhere in common cause,” said Mr. Steiner. According to FAO (http://www.fao.org/save-food/en/), roughly 95 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries are unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; infrastructure; packaging and marketing systems. However, in the developed world the end of the chain is far more significant. At the food manufacturing and retail level in the developed world, large quantities of food are wasted due to inefficient practices, quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large. Per-capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kg a year in Europe and North America/Oceania, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year. According to WRAP, the average UK family could save £680 per year (US$1,090) and the UK hospitality sector could save £724 million (US$1.2 billion) per year by tackling food waste. “In the UK we have shown how tackling food waste through engaging with consumers and establishing collective agreement with retailers and brands, reduces environmental pressures and aids economic growth,” said Dr. Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP. “With a rising population, even more pressure is going to be put on resources, and we are excited to be a partner in UNEP and FAO’s Think. Eat. Save. campaign, which is a great start to tackling food waste on a global scale.” In a similar vein to other parts of the world, the European Union is looking into the issue of food waste, and the European Commission has lent its weight to the new initiative. “In the EU we have set ourselves a target to halve edible food waste by 2020 and to virtually eliminate landfilling by 2020; the Commission is planning to present ideas next year on the sustainability of the food system which will have a strong focus on food waste,” said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. “Less food waste would lead to more-efficient land use, better water resource management, more sustainable use of phosphorus, and it would have positive repercussions on climate change. Our work fits perfectly with the launch of this initiative,” he added. For the campaign to reach its huge potential, everyone has to be involved – families, supermarkets, hotel chains, schools, sports and social clubs, company CEOs, city Mayors, national and world leaders. The campaign website, www.thinkeatsave.org, provides simple tips to consumers and retailers, will allow users to make food waste pledges, and provides a platform for those running campaigns to exchange ideas and create a truly global culture of sustainable consumption of food. For example, the website provides the following advice, which will help consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry reduce waste – thus reducing their environmental impact and saving money. Consumers  
  • Shop Smart: Plan meals, use shopping lists, avoid impulse buys and don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need.
  • Buy Funny Fruit: Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or colour are deemed not “right”. Buying these perfectly good fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.
  • Understand Expiry Dates: “Best-before” dates are generally manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after these dates. The important date is “use by” – eat food by that date or check if you can freeze it.
  • Zero Down Your Fridge: Websites such as WRAP’s www.lovefoodhatewaste.com can help consumers get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.
  • Other actions include: freezing food; following storage guidance to keep food at its best, requesting smaller portions at restaurants; eating leftovers – whether home-cooked, from restaurants or takeaway; composting food; and donating spare food to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
Retailers and the Hospitality Industry  
  • Retailers can carry out waste audits and product loss analysis for high-waste areas, work with their suppliers to reduce waste, offer discounts for near-expiration items, redesign product displays with less excess, standardize labelling and increase food donations, among other actions.
  • Restaurants, pubs and hotels can limit menu choices and introduce flexible portioning, carry out waste audits and create staff engagement programmes, among many other measures.
  • Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, companies, cities and countries will be able to use the website to pledge to measure the food they waste and put in place targets to reduce it.
Messages of Support Guillaume GAROT, French Minister for Agri-Food “We in France have set the objective of halving food waste by 2025. Currently we are mobilizing the whole of the food chain, from producers and industry, through distribution, and up to consumers for this essential action. This is why I welcome this UNEP and FAO initiative, which will create an international mobilization that will prove more effective by virtue of everybody working together. The fight against food waste on a global scale is a key priority of civilization and an imperative path we must take if we want to take up the food challenge.” Wales’s Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, John Griffiths “It is great news that WRAP is working with the UN Environment Programme to develop a plan to reduce global food waste. Each year around 400,000 tonnes of food and drink are wasted by household in Wales alone. On a global scale, the staggering amount of food we waste is wholly unacceptable and a huge drain on our precious resources. That is why tackling the problem of food waste is a top priority for the Welsh Government and every local council in Wales runs a weekly food waste collection service that covers nine out of ten households.” Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead “The vast amount of good food which is wasted globally shames us all. It’s also a shocking waste of all the energy and water used in food production, which leads to higher prices and hurts national economies. As Scotland’s Food Minister, I am passionate about both maximising the amount of high quality food we produce and reducing the amount of food we waste. With people going hungry around the world we each have a personal responsibility not to waste this valuable resource. Scotland was among the first countries to take concerted action on food waste through our support for WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste scheme and its work with retailers.  More recently the Scottish Government has promoted a major national food waste campaign. A collective approach is what’s needed, so it’s great to see the United Nations and its agencies becoming major allies in the battle to end food waste.” Mr.  Helenio Waddington, Roteiros de Charme Hotel Association, President “We are excited to be working with the Think.Eat.Save campaign to preserve and protect our environment and create a more environmentally friendly hotel for our guests. Our effort will also contribute to raising awareness among the Brazilian tourist community.” Luke Upchurch, Head of Communications and External Affairs, Consumers International “This is a great initiative to get consumers and businesses to think more about the food we throw away. Nobody likes to waste food, so we need to do all we can to make it easier to buy, consume, and throw away only what we absolutely need to.” Andrew Kuyk, Director of Sustainability, UK Food and Drink Federation “Tackling food waste is a key priority, both to make what we have go further, especially in the developing world, and to help conserve the vital natural resources on which future production depends. Wasting food also wastes money as well as everything else used to make it. We know from our own work with WRAP in the UK food industry that they will be able to add real value to UNEP’s initiative to devise a global reduction programme, building on lessons learned from actions already taken. The Food and Drink Federation, as the voice of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, is pleased to offer its support to this new and exciting partnership.” Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s Head of Sustainability “We’re adding our support to this UNEP campaign because wasting less food is a thoroughly good thing. At Sainsbury’s, we take the issue of food waste very seriously and work to minimize it as much as possible. None of our food waste goes to landfill and we were one of the first major UK retailers to achieve this in 2011. We donate any surplus food to charities and use any waste food for animal feed or anaerobic digestion to generate renewable energy. We also actively help our customers to make their food go further and waste less by providing meal planners and tips on how to store and re-use leftovers, and through our current ‘Make Your Roast Go Further’ campaign that helps them to create two additional family meals from every Sunday roasting joint. We’ve also encouraged customers to embrace ‘ugly’ British fruit and vegetables and to freeze food up to a product’s use by date, which could prevent up to 400,000 tonnes of food being wasted each year.” FoodDrinkEurope ”FoodDrinkEurope’s Environmental Sustainability Vision Towards 2030 identifies that working on the reduction of food wastage is a key priority for Europe’s food and drink industry. Resources and the environmental impacts linked to the production of food, such as raw materials, water and fuels, are also wasted when food is wasted. Preventing waste is key to improving the sustainability of consumption habits and the production of food and drink products. We are committed to working with policymakers, food chain partners and other stakeholders such as the UNEP and the FAO to move towards an integrated approach to raise awareness and optimize the use of raw materials by maximizing the use of by- products for food production. While natural resources get increasingly scarce worldwide, achieving industry’s overall aim of avoiding food waste along the food chain is essential for the future sustainability.” Compass Group “We support the aims of the UN Environment Programme’s new global campaign and last year, Compass Group UK & Ireland signed up to WRAP’s Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement to achieve certain food and associated waste reduction targets in the UK. In addition, we continue to work with our suppliers, clients and customers around the world to reduce waste through implementing initiatives such as ‘Trim Trax’, our programme to measure and reduce food wastage.” NOTES TO EDITORS Food Loss refers to food that gets spilled, spoilt or otherwise lost, or incurs reduction of quality and value, before it reaches its final product stage. Food loss typically takes place at production, postharvest, processing and distribution stages in the food supply chain. Food Waste refers to food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil. Food waste typically, but not exclusively, takes place at retail and consumption stages in the food supply chain. Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint Visit www.thinkeatsave.org for more information on the campaign. SAVE FOOD Initiative SAVE FOOD the Global Initiative on Food Losses and Food Waste Reduction is a partnership between companies and organizations worldwide to reduce the estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is lost or wasted every year. For more information and facts and figures on food waste and food loss, visit: http://www.fao.org/save-food/en/ WRAP Wrap is a non-profit organization funded by all four UK governments and the EU, and aims to help people recycle more and waste less. For more information, visit: http://www.wrap.org.uk/ Feeding the 5,000 Feeding the 5,000 organizes events where meals made from food that would otherwise have been thrown out are distributed free. For more information, visit: http://www.feeding5k.org/ Video Interview with Robert van Otterdijk, SAVE FOOD: http://www.fao.org/news/audio-video/detail-video/en/?uid=9575 Food loss reduction in The Gambia: http://www.fao.org/news/audio-video/detail-video/en/?uid=7529 Photo Gallery ‘One Third’ by Klaus Pilcher: One Third uses images to describes the connection between individual wastage of food and globalized food production: http://www.kpic.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=45&Itemid=88 Related Reports, Facts and Figures UNEP discussion paper on the role of global food consumption patterns in sustainable food systems: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_events/upcoming/RioCSF/partner_deliverables/Role_of_Global_Food_Consumption_Patterns.pdf The work of UNEP’s Resource Efficiency Programme on Agri-Food: http://www.unep.org/resourceefficiency/Home/Business/SectoralActivities/AgricultureFood/tabid/78943/Default.aspx  
IMG-20121003-00849

Sense and Sensibility

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News, Take Action

By Yula Pannadopoulos

Last year I attended two conferences, somewhat related to sustainable development, and both, when talking about the issue of hunger and feeding the world, toyed with the idea that the food issue would be solved with reducing the population.  Shocking as it may be, the idea did have a sense of reason, but in a purely mathematical (or statistical?) way.  “If you have 10 apples, and 12 kids” sort of a thing.

Still, I couldn’t help noticing that, even with all the math logic, and statistical coldness, that “theory” did not really make any sense to me. It seemed as if they did not count in all those tons of wasted food, all the oversized portions, and all the insensitivity so many people show on a daily basis when it comes to sharing with others.

Just imagine the change if we would all act sensibly, cook only how much we need, buy local produce, serve average sized portions, and share the surplus, instead of throwing away the food.

Just imagine the change if we’d all think, just a little bit, about how many resources is needed to produce (or deliver) the food we are eating this minute. Does it need to be shipped from across the world, or is it produced in our vicinity? What’s its water footprint? Is it produced in an ethical way (with regards to both animals and people). How often do we think about these things when we go food shopping? Not often enough, is the answer we hear more often than we should.

So what exactly can each of us do to help with the “food issue”?

– Don’t trow away food is the first logical answer that comes to anyone’s mind. There are numerous recipe ideas of delicious meals combined from leftovers – don’t be afraid to try them out, or, even better, to invent your own

– Check your portions (serving size). Eating should provide us with energy to work and be active (in another words – we should feel comfortable and not stuffed after having a meal; if we feel stuffed, it means we ate more than our body actually requires)

– Having leftovers you don’t know what to do with? Why not share them with the shelter, or a homeless person, or with someone you know is struggling to make ends meet

– Skip one meal a week, and donate the money you’d spend on that meal to help fight hunger in Africa or similar regions

These are just some of the ideas how every person – big or small, young or old, can help solve the food crisis. True – a global consensus between countries would be the most effective solution, but never underestimate the power of a joint action of many simple, average individuals. More often than not we are the ones inducing a change, we just don’t give ourselves enough credit.

Let us be determined to make this change. Let us help solve the food crisis.

Photo credits Nektarina Non Profit, taken at Nova Scotia

permaculture

How are we going to feed the world?

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News

With world population forecasted to reach nine billion people during this century, the question of how all these people will have the necessary resources to survive, like water and food, has been raised many times. A large quantity of freshwater is stored in the polar icecaps and so not available for consumption (with global warming on the way these have already started to melt away into the ocean). Generally, the freshwater we use comes from aquifers that are replenished by precipitation. However, due to natural factors like prolonged drought or floods or to human-related factors such as overuse for industrial purposes or groundwater contamination, important quantities of freshwater are lost. Thus, water resources are not always available where they are needed, causing some societies to become water stressed. In many countries the sustainable water use is already threatened, despite predictions that in the future water use is expected to increase. When it comes to food production agriculture has certainly come a long way and has continuously managed to provide an increased production. Some of the reasons behind this are improved mechanization, increased use of fertilizer, herbicides, dwarf crop varieties, drought resistant crops, development of genetically modified crops, etc. Actually, in most countries agriculture is the largest single user of freshwater. In developed countries residential water use is relatively minor compared with the amounts used for agriculture. Moreover, apart from the water we consume for our daily needs, we also use water indirectly through the products we buy, which also necessitated water for their production. Thus, our water footprint is much larger than we think, due to all the externalities that we do not take into account. So it is clear that in order to meet the needs of future, more numerous generations, something needs to be changed in the way we produce food and utilise water resources. With climate change as an aggravating factor, solutions should be found as soon as possible. One of the proposed alternatives is the adoption of permaculture. A quick look on Wikipedia will show us that this is not even a new, revolutionary concept. Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture / human settlements and self-maintained agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems. Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology to create systems that make the most of the natural ecosystems’ capacity to regulate life-supporting processes, while at the same time providing benefits for people. The core tenets of permaculture are:
  • Take Care of the Earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. Without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  • Take Care of the People: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  • Share the Surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.
This model would also take into account the externalities that the conventional agriculture leaves out. Sure, it looks like an idyllic alternative, with organic crops and happy ecosystems, but concerns are being expressed with regard to its possibilities to replace conventional agriculture, especially given an increase in population. Some critics have suggested that permaculture would be suited for small scale projects, but it cannot be applied at large scale. However, with so many governments offering subsidies for small and medium farmers, including for preservation of traditional products/ways of producing, permaculture can turn into a viable solution, or at least a part of it. In a way, it is similar to renewable energy sources, where long-term sustainability is achieved through lower yields. And just like the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it will probably require diversification and decades of mixed systems – both conventional and permaculture. Another suggested way of reducing the environmental burden of food production and water consumption is becoming a vegetarian or at least consuming less meat. Adopting a vegetarian diet has indeed health benefits as well as environmental ones. Of course, many claim that meat is necessary to provide us with nutrients that we cannot find in plants. However, several recent studies have shown that a balanced vegetarian or even vegan diet can successfully replace all the benefits of a meat diet. The figures about how much water and resources are used to obtain a kilo of meat are quite worrying (for example, it takes about 15000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef, 10 times more than for 1kg of wheat), not to mention the waste generated or the degradation of grazed soils. But the transition to being a vegetarian cannot happen overnight. There many factors that need to be taken into account. There are differences between developed and developing countries and even in the same country between urban and rural population. Eating meat is sometimes associated with social status, while having a (partial) vegetarian diet is related to religious practices in some regions. Especially in developed countries processed food containing meat is often the cheapest kind, so for poor people being a vegetarian is somewhat of a challenge. At the same time, among rich people, becoming a vegetarian has transformed into a new cool trend, rather than an educated choice. So a general switch towards eating less meat will need to take place gradually, for instance through try-out campaigns like Meatless Mondays. Furthermore, people will be faced with cooking for themselves instead of ordering take-out, a thing that many have forgotten how to do. However, like in most cases just switching to vegetarianism is not the miracle solution. If we compare the cost of meat production in terms of water and resources with the one of other commodities that we use, like sugar or electronics, it is not even that high. So only adopting a vegetarian diet is not going to have a great effect on our footprint. Another much debated and quite controversial solution to feed the world is genetically modified organisms or GMOs. Their advantages and disadvantages are still being weighed against each other. There are three types of GMOs currently under research: crops resistant to pests, crops resistant to various dire conditions, such as drought, and crops resistant to pesticides. The most often cited pluses of GMOs revolve around pest-free, high-yielding crops that require fewer amounts of pesticide applications and low-intensity soil tillage. It does sound like a recipe to success and these benefits are indeed very important, but many critics warn about the possible adverse consequences of their use. To start with, if we focus only on the use of these plants alone, without being biased by the greedy, unorthodox practices by which producing giant corporations are trying to sell them, there are still a few shadows of doubt hanging about. Most studies have indeed showed that the short-term consumption of GMOs has no side effects compared with that of regular plants. However, there are still not enough studies to prove this on a long term. Secondly, by far the most criticised issue is the use of pesticides-resistant GMOs. In fact, their use not only does not reduce the amount of applied pesticides, but they are designed to resist these chemicals so that a larger quantity can be used to destroy pests. In these conditions pests have started to develop resistance, so that even higher doses have to be used. This could prove bad for the health of those applying the chemicals, as well as for those eating the final produce, not to mention possible environmental consequences (the decrease in bee populations is thought to be connected to this). In addition, loosing gene pool, cross-fertilization with nearby fields risk, feeble monocultures, dependence on seed companies or a decreasing return for crops as both seeds and pesticides become more expensive, are just a few of the other downsides, as well as obstacles that GMOs will face in the future. Yes, GMO’s might prove necessary to create crops that can survive in harsh climates such as Africa or the Middle East. They can and will improve yields in many crops. But inserting a pesticide gene into a seed may turn out to have unexpected effects, which we today cannot fully understand and control without more in-depth long-term research studies. Science can take its time in coming up with solutions that are widely accepted by everyone. But there are things that we could do starting today, by ourselves. And one of the most important ones is to reduce our consumption. We are used to think that with the population increase we will need more food. This is the main reason for which GMOs came into the picture – feed the world. But unfortunately we do not consider how much food and water are wasted each day around the world. In the US alone almost half of what is produced is thrown away, while in other parts of the world millions of people die of hunger. It is not that we do not produce enough; it is just the very unequal way it is distributed. So one of the things we are able to do, in fact quite rapidly, is to start a behaviour change: consider what you really need, consume less, including meat, and use water more efficiently. Luckily we have the opportunity to do more than one thing at a time. So maybe with a little bit of renewables, more efficient use of resources, more vegetarians, less waste, etc, we will be able to make a difference.   Find out more: http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=319 http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=327 http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=333 http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=337 http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=351 http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=387 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture Some of the questions and topics referred to above (and in some of the posts that will follow on the same issue) have been raised during the course Introduction to Sustainability, available at the University of Illinois. They certainly generate a lot of discussions and this is why we decided to explore them further. The statements made in this text are not meant to offer any answers and do not pretend to cover all possible aspects of a subject. They are merely an invitation to discover various facets of the sustainability debate, of which we believe all should be aware and a part of. Image source: http://choosepermaculture.com/
the_overpopulation_myth

More on population vs. sustainability

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News

In one of the previous posts (see http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=319) we mentioned that population growth is often seen as one of the biggest threats to sustainability. So perhaps we should explore this more in depth. An analysis of current trends in population statistics shows large differences among the countries. Whereas population in developed countries has increased in previous decades, it has now reached a relative stability, given by the almost equal death and birth rates. On the contrary, population in developing countries is facing an accelerated growth, where birthrates still surpass the death rates. A look back in the history of developed countries provides an insight into the factors that have determined the present situation: with the technological advances, better hygiene and enhanced medical care the number of deaths fell rapidly, while the number of births remained the same. This triggered a population increase. After a period, the number of births decreased as well, following the improvement of women’s statute, more access to education or an increase in the age when women used to marry and have children. This led to the stabilization of the population growth rate. As the situation is looking today, most of the developing countries are still at the phase of increasing population, but, due to technological progress and a quicker access to it, chances are that the process of stabilization is going to be reached sooner than in the case of developed countries. In fact, the overall world population growth rate is gradually decreasing. So it is safe to assume that population growth is likely to stop at some point. The big question is when this point is going to be reached. Is there still time for us to grow or have we already reached the limits the Earth can handle without natural processes being disrupted? Of course, like in every debate, there are optimistic and pessimistic opinions about this issue. Some doubt that developing countries will have enough resources to catch up with developed countries, which partly outsourced the costs entailed by their economic growth to other countries (i.e. colonies or using cheap work force). Meanwhile, the population will continue to grow, at least for a while, and so the Earth will have to put up with some 9 billion people and their associated CO2 emissions. It is already argued that if everyone had a lifestyle similar to American citizens, 4 planets would be necessary to sustain such consumption. On a more optimistic note, we are not bound to keep up the current consumption patterns in the future. Especially in developed countries a lot of the goods produced are not efficiently consumed and thus go to waste. Especially with the help of new technologies (like recycling or renewable energy), there would be plenty of resources to go around for everyone. Obviously, an important part of this strategy would involve a shift in consumption patterns, away from luxury and more towards social development. Another aspect to consider is policy. Some countries, and China is surely the best known example, have adopted policies aimed at controlling and containing population growth. Whether such policies are going against the natural right of choosing how many children a woman wants to have or whether they are necessary or even irresponsible (given the reduced opportunities that bastards will face as adults), it is still to be seen. However, many believe that policies should be more directed towards improving the quality of life, the education and women’s rights than towards limiting birthrates. This way, women would be able to make an educated choice over their family life, not to mention the improvement in general living conditions if more of them got jobs and, as a result, birthrates would level off to a sustainable level.   Find out more: http://www.education4sustainability.org/?p=327 Some of the questions and topics referred to above (and in some of the posts that will follow on the same issue) have been raised during the course Introduction to Sustainability, available at the University of Illinois. They certainly generate a lot of discussions and this is why we decided to explore them further. The statements made in this text are not meant to offer any answers and do not pretend to cover all possible aspects of a subject. They are merely an invitation to discover various facets of the sustainability debate, of which we believe all should be aware and a part of. Image source: http://www.salon.com/2010/04/19/population_crash_ext2010/