- Slides: 48
Sustainable vs Sustained n n Based on a presentation to York Mills Eco-day, November 17, 2011 Tim Heffernan
Easter Island: Multiple Lessons
Easter Island was annexed by Chile in 1888. It lies 3510 km west of the Chilean mainland.
Easter Day in 1722 Imagine what the first Dutch explorers thought when they first accidentally sailed to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and saw the statues.
Statistics n n Rapa Nui (Easter Island)is 5 hours (3600 km) by jet airplane from Chile (2000 km from the closest inhabited island). The island is triangular and about 20 kilometers long. (27°S) Some statues weigh over 100 tons (the largest were close to 10 meters high). Hundreds (887) of statues all around the island.
How did it fall apart? n n There is clear evidence that Easter Island once was a heavily populated (perhaps 20, 000 people) and rich society. There is clear evidence that this big population collapsed and most of the population died.
Collapse (cont’d) n n When the Europeans first arrived in 1722, there were approx 2, 500 natives. In 1877 there were only 110.
Collapse (cont’d) n n n Natives came originally from Polynesia probably accidentally found Rapa Nui (Easter Island) while they were lost. Statues were built by natives cut from soft volcanic stone on the island. Society collapsed before the Europeans arrived caused by overpopulation and poor use of resources
Collapse Rapa Nui (Easter Island)must have seemed like paradise to the first natives of perhaps 100 people. n. Forests n. Seafood n. Plenty of space
Reasons for collapse n Cults formed and statues were built to worship the cults. n Many trees were cut down in order to move the statues (log rolling – compare to Stonehenge) n Rats ate the seeds leaving the island without trees n Boats slowly disappeared so people could no longer fish. n The soil washed into the sea because there were no trees.
How do we know this? n Pollen in soil samples can show plant life changes over time. n Bones of animals show that less and less fish was eaten as time advanced. n Bones of humans show evidence of cannibalism.
n Attenborough youtube: 4 min 25 sec into clip n http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=-h. Ov. CPuu. QQ
Why? What? • Why didn't they stop before it was too late? • What were they thinking when they cut down the last tree? • What can WE learn from the history of Easter Island?
Larger Lesson n What larger lesson can we learn about the planet Earth based on Easter Island’s history? Make a list of the similarities as follows: Both Rapa Nui and the Earth: n n 1. 2. 3. 4.
Eco-lesson n Both Rapa Nui and the Earth: n n 1. are isolated with nowhere to escape to; 2. have experienced environmental destruction; 3. have overpopulation problems; 4. are quickly using up resources
n End of Line DVD (segment 2)
Decline in fish stocks in North Atlantic over 150 years
Decline of Biomass to feed the fish over the last 100 years
If human population is growing exponentially, and resources are finite, how do we get by? n n n Especially if accompanied by exponential consumption of finite resources. . . Is it as “simple” as making rules for population (One family, One child) or limiting food? Do we need to move from a period of growth to a period of non-growth?
Current cultural paradigm – sustained growth n Growth must be permanent n Bigger, better, faster, more Growth must occur for society to prosper. Consumers, workers, corporations, all want more n
New paradigm? n Sustainability Sustainable growth vs Sustained growth Is zero or negative growth OK? Can it be sold to people?
Sustainabity defined n n derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). the most widely quoted definition of sustainability and sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987……. “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=B 5 Ni. TN 0 chj 0&feature=related (animation on sustainability)
n Handout worksheet “Areas of Sustainability”
http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=scq. ZT 8 Sg. Gws
Environmentalism vs. Sustainability n Environmentalism: 1960’s, Greenpeace n n n Single issue politics Putting the environment first, above all else Sustainability n Broader scope, it attracts more people n Incorporates a wider range of issues and movements n Balance of social, economic, AND environmental needs
China’s environmental crises n n n China has averaged an economic growth of 8% over the past 20 years Has increased the standard of living for hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens This economic growth has also had severe ramifications for the natural environment n n Dramatic increase in demand for natural resources Forest resources have been depleted Levels of water and air pollution have skyrocketed Caused by poorly regulated industrial and household emissions and waste
China’s overwhelming reliance on coal for its energy needs has made its air quality among the worst in the world 8 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are now located in China n In 1995, ambient concentrations of SO 2 in over half of 88 Chinese cities monitored exceeded WHO guidelines for safety n
85 of 87 cities exceeded WHO guidelines for total suspended particulate matter n n In many cities the concentrations were 2 -5 times the safety levels given by WHO guidelines The % of arable land affected by acid rain increased from 18% to 40% between 1985 and 1998 n China now releases 13% of global CO 2 emissions n 2 nd only to the United States (23%)
Economic development has also impinged on China’s already scarce water resources n Industrial and household demand has risen more than 80% since 1980 n About 60 million people find it difficult to get enough water for their daily needs n n In several water-scarce regions in northern and western China, factories have been forced to close down because of lack of water In addition, water pollution is posing a serious and growing threat to water reserves
China’s forest resources rank among the lowest in the world n n Demand for furniture, chopsticks, and paper has driven an increasingly profitable, but environmentally devastating, illegal logging trade. By the mid-1990 s, half of China’s forest bureaux reported that trees were being felled at an unsustainable rate. 20% had already exhausted their reserves
The result of China’s increasing demand on its forest resources n loss of biodiversity n climate change n soil erosion
Deforestation, overgrazing and over-cultivation of cropland, has also contributed to: n an increase in devastating sandstorms n and desertification n More than ¼ of China’s territory is now desert n Desertification is advancing at a rate of roughly 900 sq. miles annually
Mineral Resources: how long will they last? • Silver (for catalytic converters on cars) 9 yrs • Uranium (nuclear power stations) 19 yrs • Tantalum (mobile phones/camera lenses) 20 yrs • Copper (cable wire) 38 yrs And the biggie…………
PEAK MINERALS http: //www. science. org. au/nova/newscientist/ns_diagrams/027 ns_005 image 2. jpg
Aluminum facts (from various eco websites) • aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth. • Over 50 percent of the aluminum cans produced are recycled. • A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days. • Aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal: two-thirds of the aluminum ever produced is in use today. • Every minute of everyday, an average of 113, 204 aluminum cans are recycled. • Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy and 20 recycled cans can be made with the energy needed to produce one can using virgin ore.
Aluminum facts , contd. • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100 -watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours. • Last year 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million barrels of crude oil – America’s entire gas consumption for one day. • Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline. • In 1972, 24, 000 metric tons of aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) were recycled. In 1998, the amount increased to over 879, 000 metric tons. • In 1972, it took about 22 empty, aluminum cans to weigh one pound. Due to advanced technology to use less material and increase durability of aluminum cans, in 2002 it takes about 34 empty aluminum cans to weigh one pound. • The average employee consumes 2. 5 beverages a day while at work. • The empty aluminum can is worth about 1 cent
What they didn’t say (from Trashed Cans – The Global Environmental Impacts of Aluminum Can Wasting in America, 2002) Had the 50. 7 billion cans wasted in 2001 been recycled, they could have saved the energy equivalent of 16 million barrels of crude oil--enough energy to generate electricity for 2. 7 million U. S. homes for a year. Had the 50. 7 billion cans wasted in 2001 been recycled, they would have: • Avoided the emission of more than three million tons of greenhouse gases • Avoided the emission of 75, 000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions— contributors to smog and acid rain; • Reduced soil erosion and habitat loss from strip mining for bauxite and coal; • Reduced toxic runoff from mining which contaminates soil and waterways; • Reduced solid wastes and liquid effluents from smelting and other industrial processes; • Reduced damage to salmon habitats in the Pacific Northwest and Canada; and • Avoided landfilling, littering or incinerating 760, 000 tons of aluminum.