I am a Danish professor in Business Administration and Statistics. I’m taking an active part in the current debate on Global Warming because I think it’s high time to disprove some dangerous and totally unwarranted positions. In fact, if it’s true that global warming has been caused by man and that, sooner or later, it will inevitably affect both human beings and the environment, it is equally true that official statements and positions on the matter often sound catastrophic as well as exaggerated and they tend to take as possible solutions extremely tough measures that, in truth, end up with damaging the countries’ economies while proving totally ineffective. I think there are far many other more important issues to fight for: famine, poverty, diseases... Concentrating our efforts on these problems, we will be able to help many more people, spending less money and with a higher success rate.
I am a Swiss entomologist and I’ve worked many years in Africa, particularly devoting myself to fight cochineals which infest and destroy manioc crops. Manioc roots, in fact, are rich in starch and are part of the staple diet of million Africans. In the 1970s and ‘80s this insect has been the cause of a drastic reduction in crop yield, as high as 80%, in the whole continent. After carrying out extensive research for 10 years, we successfully set up biological control of the pest, without using chemicals, but using their natural predator to destroy them, a wasp. This way we’ve been able to avoid severe and widespread famine but, more than that, we’ve shown the world that organic farming is feasible, and that by 2050 it may be possible to produce -in harmony with our environment- enough food to nourish the whole planet.I’m quite sure we can make it. The question is: do we really want to?
I am a pensioner, I’m 78 and live on my own in a house located in the old town centre of a city in Northern Italy. A couple of years ago the municipal administration decided to make waste disposal the citizens’ own responsibility, by adopting a system of waste separation which I frankly deem totally impracticable: in fact, I find it so difficult to understand how to separate waste; it’s not easy for me to actually tell one material from the other; I often forget to put the containers outside on the right days and by the appointed time, and so they start to smell bad and my flat ends up being swamped with it all! Moreover, with my ailing back, it’s a hard job for me to go down the stairs carrying those heavy containers, full to the brim, especially during the winter.Is this what a civilized society is supposed to be? When I was a child, we used to produce less waste and we would use things again and again. Are we sure this ‘waste separation’ is the right thing?
I’m an engineer working for a Canadian company specialised in drilling and mining from ocean floor. We’ve just entered into an important agreement with the Government of Papuan New Guinea to mine metals, chiefly gold and copper, 1500 metre deep on the ocean floor. In fact, as the ore reserve is running out, we are forced to look for new supply in ways and places that would never have seemed a viable option only a few years ago. Although this project is sure to guarantee the country huge financial profits, nonetheless public opinion, influenced by environmental movements, totally oppose it, on the grounds that it could have destructive consequences. I consider these positions completely irrational. My company has carried out research in the field: the environmental impact will be very low. So why this strong aversion towards technology?
I’m a housewife and mother of three, now adolescent, children. When they were little children, I used to be very careful about what I was cooking for them, using only organic food, since I was convinced that it would be the best food for them to grow up with. Theoretically, I think that sustainable farming is, in the long run, the best choice for the future of our planet but, from a practical point of view, I eventually gave up buying organic products because they’re outrageously expensive and hard to get. I must say I’m sorry about that, but I believe there are many more people who have made the same choice as mine. Well, obviously, things would change if, to the price of a cheaper product, we would add up all extra cost for water pollution, the loss in biodiversity and all related social and sanitary issues .
I work at the Department of Public Utilities in San Diego. I’m completing a research project on a new methodology to reclaim, treat and purify greywater and blackwater and make them suitable for drinking. So far, we’ve got excellent results: the water we obtained is in fact cleaner than the existing drinking water and it is also cheaper than that produced, for example, in a desalination plant. For San Diego this could represent a revolutionary process. However, public opinion is bitterly opposing it out of a sense of sheer repulsion as well as distrust towards the effectiveness of this purification methodology. Maybe, what with the worsening drought and further development of coastal settlements, who knows? People may eventually change their minds on the matter! I wonder if our future necessities will be able to force us to change our present habits and beliefs.
I’m an agronomist and I work at the International Rice Research Institute. Our Institute produces every year dozens of new varieties of rice, obtained through the new genetic engineering techniques that improve varietal characteristics through cross-breeding among same-species plants. We have varieties resistant to drought; others enduring a salty environment and others that can survive completely underwater for up to about 15 days. In the name of what out-of-date, antiscientific position are we expected to renounce such a great richness in varieties? In fact, in my opinion, one thing is to talk about multinational corporations’ interference in the world food production; a completely different matter is to consider using the tools supplied by genetic engineering to improve crops and thus help solving peoples’ real problems.
I’m 15 and I’m attending a secondary school specialised in scientifical studies in my home town. My parents, as staunch environmentalists, have always been deeply committed with associations for the preservation of the natural environment and keen on organic food. I’ve been brought up under those principles but, honestly, without ever asking myself too many questions: I just thought it simply was the right thing to do. But, recently, I’ve started to have my doubts. Most of my friends’ families are not at all concerned about environmental issues and behave in a way my parents do stigmatise. They all use their scooters to get around, while my parents refuse to buy me one because they say it’s a polluter and that I’d better be happy to ride my bike. I wonder: what can the three of us do against the rest of the world? And why on earth should I be the only one to make this sacrifice?
I’m an architect and, about 10 years ago, I planned and built an affordable low-environmental-impact prefabricated house. I called it “Loblolly House” from the name of the trees which have been used to build at least a part of it and that are typical of the area where it has been located. It has become a symbol of a new attitude to building, that involves keeping in mind the environmental impact. I think the most cost-effective way to build a house is to have it built in a plant and subsequently assemble it on site.This enormously reduces the amount of energy required to build it (“energy investment”). Traditional building industry has become a “dirty word” and it should be banned. We have proved that building in a different way is possible. So, now, when will Governments take action and control by regulations the building sector?
I’m working as a fishmonger at the fish counter in a supermarket that is part of a large-scale retail company. I like my job very much because in a way it keeps me closely related to my great true passion: the sea. However, to my great displeasure, every day I have to witness, with a feeling of impotence, the choices made by our Purchasing Managers: all issues related to fishing and ichthyic resource policies are not in the least considered. The consumer’s tastes rule, and most customers ask always for the same kind of fish: 90% of them want it “easy and quick to cook and with no bones”. I’m dreaming of opening my own Fishmonger’s so as to be able to support fishermen practicing a sustainable fishing. But how long would I be able to survive on the market? What can be done to inform consumers and make them aware of what lies behind their “no-bone fish”?
I am a Councillor for Social Mobility and the Environment in a Po Plain town in Northern Italy. Data from last year’s statistics summary on the ‘Quality of the Air’ related to fine particulates (PM2.5) are, as usual, alarming for my town: that value has exceeded the accepatable safety level of 50 μg /m3 for 61 days, thus putting at risk our citizens’ health. Even the current year’s values are not at all good. In a short while I will be forced to adopt drastic measures to reduce the number of circulating vehicles; at least, operating the alternating numberplate scheme. The Associazione Commercianti (Traders’ Association) is already on war footing and ready to wage war against the new measures, branding them as useless and detrimental to retailers in town. They might even be right from their point of view, but what alternative measures should I take? Air is not the traders’ sole possession: it belongs to everyone.
I’m a research worker from the Faculty of Agriculture of Bologna University and I’ve taken part in the project “Last Minute Market”. The project started in 1998 as a research activity, and became a real professional system for the reuse of the unsold goods by the large-scale retail trade. Thanks to our organisation, food products (and not only those) bound to be destroyed are being set aside for charities, with obvious environmental, social and economic benefits. In the world one third of food is wasted while 800 million people starve to death. In Italy every year food worth 15 billion euro is being wasted and each Italian is said to be throwing into the garbage an average of 42 kg of food per year. So, before stating we should go on increasing production, why on earth, I wonder, don’t we learn to waste less?
INFO CARDSISSUE CARDS
In rich countries drinking water is being wasted , using it even where it’s not necessary. A glaringly obvious proof is its use in the flusher: each time you flush the toilet 10 to 12 litres of water flow down. Many systems have been found to reduce water consumption (double push-button, connection with the washbasin drain) but they don’t seem to have met much consensus. What about making them compulsory?
The choice to buy in-season food products, which have been produced locally, certainly helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, since emissions related to handling the goods are in this case avoided. On the other hand, however, this choice undoubtedly affects some of the poorest countries in the world, who have in their agricultural products exports the chief means of subsistence.
The organizations which deal with Fair Trade food help the producers from the poorest countries in the world, enabling them to trade their goods at a fair price. At the same time, they guarantee innovative solutions, that are respectful of people’s rights and dignity as well as environmentally-friendly. Fair Trade products are often more expensive than similar ones. Do you think this is right?
Clean-burning fuels are more eco-sustainable than oil and its by-products, but they bear a hidden extra cost in terms of environment. Their production process, in fact, steals water and soil from fields under cultivation of food products. What criteria are to be used to get our priorities straight? How should priorities be regulated?
Between 2005 and 2011 the price of corn tortillas, part of the staple diet of millions Mexicans, has risen by approximately 70% , setting off a violent protest from the indignant population which forced the Government to peg prices. According to economic experts, more than 30% of this rise has been caused by the increased producion of ethanol from corn in the United States.
Sea levels worldwide have been rising and the trend has been linked to global warming. Scientific research indicates that in the last 100 years sea level has risen by approximately 17 cm. as confirmed by the inhabitants of coastal cities. However, there seems to be quite a discordance of opinion in the experts’ predictions: according to some of them, sea level will rise by 18 cm by 2100; other studies forecast only 1 m’s rise.
In order to reduce the impact on the atmosphere, we should use more efficient cars, which means newer cars. So, as far as means of transport are concerned, this appears to penalize the working and middle classes of society, unable to afford new cars. Could car-pooling and car-sharing be the solution?
It’s a pretty complex issue to be addressed. Some populations have no choice: their water supply either is not clean or it is scarce. In developed countries, on the contrary, tap water is as healthy and good as bottled water. Most people, however, are still suspicious of its quality. What should be done to make them change their minds?
Available data on British energy consumption indicate that the link between economic growth and the use of fossil fuels (with consequent greenhouse gas emissions) has been broken. In fact, from 1985 up to the present day, the United Kingdom economy has doubled, while energy consumprion has remained unchanged. This leads to the question: is it then feasible to save energy without jeopardising growth and welfare?
Today climatic models seem to have lost reliability since, apparently, they have been unable to predict a lower-than-expected rise in global warming – a kind of “pause” – which has been recorded in the last 10-15 years and is probably due to oceans absorbing heat, the significance of such phenomenon having been not adequately considered. But does this fact entitle us to completely discredit climatic forecasts?
Red meat has a much greater environmental impact than other kinds of meat or eggs and milk by-products, with the same amount in calories. This is what emerges from a recent study which has highlighted four factors as indicative of environmental cost: soil consumption, water consumption, greenhouse gas emission and use of nitrates in fertilizers. How to take action changing our diet accordingly?
As we know, global warming rises sea level which can then cause floods in the coastal regions. In recent years, floods are reported to have destroyed about 20 million hectare of rice paddies. Thanks to modern genetic engineering techniques, a rice variety has been created that can survive underwater for a fortnight. Do you think it’s right to use this new variety or should we go on using the traditional ones?
A while ago, the experts had calculated that the world population would reach 9 billion by 2050, and then would grow steady or even start a slight decline. The latest report, however, based on advanced statistical analysis, indicates that population could reach 11 billion by 2100, obviously with dramatic implications.
A study recently published on the British Journal of Nutrition (July 2014) has pointed out that organic fruit, vegetables and cereal not only have a lower content in pesticides (as one would naturally assume), but they also contain a higher level of antioxidants, which have often been associated with a lower onset risk of cancer as well as other diseases.
Presently Europe imports more than half of the energy it needs, which heavily impacts on the systems of accounts of the EU member countries. To drastically reduce the energy debt, we should consume less electric power. But would it be possible to effectively reduce energy consumption and, at the same time, keep the same standard of living, without having to renounce the comforts of modern life?
Some naturalist photographers have devoted their art to the purpose of awakening as many people as possible to environmental issues, aware as they are of the need to make conservation of the natural environment something appealing not only from an economic point of view, but also as part of a cultural heritage. Could it be they’re showing us the right tack to take?
Many governments in countries which still have large, pristine, pollution-free natural areas, find themselves now at an important crossroads: on one hand, they receive strong pressures for economic growth; on the other, they may have acquired a new awareness of the real value of their territory. How could we help them make this delicate choice regarding the development of their country?
The last twenty years have seen a slowdown in the growth rate of agricultural productions, particularly rice, corn and wheat. In some areas growth has even come to a standstill. The collapse of the food production systems could pose a major threat to the future of our world.
Any time we use energy in our home, to heat up or cool down our rooms, to warm up water, to switch on lights and feed our household appliances and equipment, we release greenhouse gas and, in particular, carbon dioxide.
Many people seem not to care at all and use up energy freely and in no way try to save it. This is bad not only for their electricity bills but, more than that, it is bad for the environment, that does belong to everybody.
A Carbon Footprint measures the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by a person or a State and its impact on the Planet’s climate. It is an index that allows to calculate the link between our daily activities and carbon dioxide production. Could its use help people to reach a deeper awareness of the consequences of their behaviours?
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has estimated that in the sole Po Valley deaths referable to air pollution have averaged 7000 a year. In fact, 17 out of 30 among the most polluted European cities are said to be located in Italy. Fine particulates and ozone are the pollutants which seem to be causing most health problems.
Some researchers have drawn our attention to the fact that world population is increasing more rapidly than the water supply on our Planet. So, in order to prevent a shortage of drinking water in the future, it will be of the utmost importance not only to devise technological innovations to increase the water supply on the planet, but also to regulate drinking water consumption on a global scale.
We’ve been witnessing to a slow and progressive disappearance of pollinating insects, such as bees. Many factors have plaied: climate changes, pathogens, increasing urbanization and destruction of natural habitats. Recently, an important study has demonstrated how this fact is going to lead into a serious crisis, not only on European agricultural production. The loss in biodiversity is having an impact both on a local and a global scale.
The still limited diffusion of electric cars may depend on a basic contradiction: to produce one requires more energy than that needed to make a car running on fossil fuel. This means more pollution during the production phase and higher prices afterwards. However, an international study highlights the beneficial effects on climate that electric vehicles would undoubtedly have, especially in congested city streets.
A video on the web shows that who keeps the water running while brushing their teeth, is wasting more than 10 litres of drinking water, which is more than many people can afford to use in one whole month. What can we do to invite people to turn the tap off?
The sales of biopesticides (both biochemical, antimicrobe as well as invertebrates) have been rising steadily: in domestic as well as global markets, from 2007 to 2014 sales have jumped from 1 to about 3 billion USD. Nevertheless, they haven’t gained a big share in the market yet: in 2011, in fact, they still amounted only to 4.1% of all pesticides being used.
The EWWR ( European Week for Waste Reduction) has been held in Europe every year since 2009. This week’s activities aim to involve more and more people as well as organizations (from public administrations to private companies) on the theme of waste reduction and disposal. Everybody’s contribution is welcome in terms of proposals, initiatives, events or actions related to the theme and to be held during the week.
Usually, we link the word “hunger” to far away developing countries. Yet, every day in Italy millions of people have to come to terms with lack of food due to their precarious financial situation. According to the National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT), 24.9% of families resident in Italy (about 15 million people) suffer economic hardship and 17.5% declare they can’t afford an adequate meal at least every other day.
Extensive scientific research is been carried out on sustainable materials. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute of Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology in Munich, Westphalia, have set up the production of tyres using the latex extracted from the roots of taraxacum (dandelion) instead of extracting it from the sharinga tree (“the rubber tree”).
Tindo (“sun” in aboriginal language) is the first electric bus powered by solar energy that operates as a free public transport service in Adelaide City, Australia. It is powered by solar panel-covered bus station canopies, where it is recharged. It has a maximum range of 200 km and all the electric functions on it (air-conditioning, wi-fi… etc) are fed by solar energy. It can carry up to 40 people and is completely free.
Burlington, the largest city in Vermont (USA) with 42 thousand inhabitants, is the first city in the USA which, since September 2014, has been producing 100% of its energy supply through renewable sources: hydroelectric, wind power and biomass. This project is part of a wider, long-term plan which is aimed at the whole American State of Vermont eventually getting around 90% of its energy supply from renewable sources, by 2050.
In the first months of 2014 Beijing and most of Northern China were put on red alert because of high air pollution levels. Visibility was hardly a few hundred metres because of smog and the fine particulates concentration had been for many days 25 times as much as the tolerable level. Local authorities forbade all open-air school activities and put hoardings with blue sky to compensate for the lack of sun and light the population.
Yann Arthus Bertrand is a French photographer and environmentalist who takes striking aerial photos of the Earth in order to capture the beauty of our Planet. “I do hope that, looking at my photos, you will feel changed and transformed by the beauty of this planet and will start to feel it your own responsibility to give your contribution to the conservation and protection of it. Each one can do something. It’s up to you to find your own way.”
The first Italian building to have received the prestigious LEED Platinum certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is located just outside Milan. This certification is granted to the buildings that are using resources efficiency, reducing electric energy and water consumption, thus minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe, only other 6 buildings have been granted the LEED certification so far.
From carpets to computers, from T-shirts to TV sets: producing any kind of goods will have to be seen as leading to carbon dioxide emissions. If we try and make the things that we already own last longer, we will not cause the market to produce new ones. So if in the old days this was a necessity due to lack of money, today it must become a free choice for the good of our Planet.
‘Virtual water’ is the amount of water which is needed to produce a certain good or service. To produce 1 Kg of rice, for example, we need 3400 litres of water; for a 150 gr beef steak, 2300 litres of water; for a Medium T-shirt, about 2700 litres; for a microchip, 32 litres and for 100 A4 paper sheets, 1000 litres.
The United Kingdom economy has doubled since 1985, while their energy consumption has remained unchanged. This means one thing: cars, boilers, light bulbs and household appliances have become more energy efficient. This is proof that to save energy is possible and so Governments should fund programs and research to make it a reality.
To protect themselves from cold and in sports activities people like to use pile garments, which are made out of polyester fibre, one of the many petrol by-products. Lately, however, more and more pile producers have started using fibres obtained from the recycling of plastic bottles. This allows, on one hand, to save raw materials and, on the other, to recycle waste from the dump.
In summer 2015 Toyota is launching its first hydrogen fuel cell car on the Italian market. Other car manufacturers have already put their cars on the market or are still testing experimental models. One of the main drawbacks for hydrogen cars is producing hydrogen and the other big problem will be creating a distribution network and hydrogen-equipped filling stations
All fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide but, among them, methane (or natural gas) seems to be producing a lesser amount of it. In fact, while generating the same amount of energy, natural gas is said to produce 30% less CO2 than oil and 45% less than coal. For this reason, from the 1970s up to the present day methane consumption in the world has increased 30 fold.
Official government estimates of how water is used worldwide (the figures are expressed as a percentage of average global values) are as follows:
70% agriculture and breeding
8% civil use
Practically, we seem to ‘eat’ more water than we actually ‘drink’!
How much water do you think every single person needs each day as a sufficient quantity? Enough not to suffer from thirst? Or enough to take a nice shower? Experts calculate that in order to satisfy a human being’s basic needs, that is to say, drinking, cooking and have a wash, the minimum daily quantity of clean water should amount to at least 20 litres per person. Many people, however, usually have less than 5 litres a day available.
World population has rocketed up from 500 million in 1800 to 7 billion in 2011. In the last 50 years the number of human beings has more than doubled and the exploitation of our resources has reached critical levels: food and water consumption has more than trebled, while fossil fuel consumption has become four times as great.
The increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads also to a higher level of carbon dioxide dissolved in sea water with the consequent formation of carbonic acid, thus increasing the level of acid in surface sea waters. With a pH usually ranging around 8.2, oceans are naturally alkaline, but recent scientifical data indicate that the present readings show lowering pH levels (8.0) and they are still decreasing.
Edible insects may be a sustainable alternative to meat. They are in fact a healthy source of nourishment with a high protein and fat content, though their nutritional value may vary according to species. Just to make an example, the percentage of proteins and fats in crickets is similar to that of many kinds of meat...
Hybrid cars are best valued and effective where traffic is particularly congested, for example in countries like China and India where they can use as much as 54% less fuel than traditional cars. Carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles are expected to double by 2050, so, if hybrid cars will be successful in these countries, the benefit to be gained in terms of emissions into the atmosphere will be substantial.
2011 statistics speak clearly: Italy, with 196 litres per inhabitant, proved to be the first country in Europe and the third in the world (right behind Saudi Arabia and Mexico) for the consumption of bottled water. In fact, data show that in the Italian peninsula 6 billion plastic bottles have been drunk.
Data processing relating to urban waste disposal in the Italian Emilia Romagna Region in the year 2013 confirms an amount of 650 kg/year/inhabitant, which totals almost 3 million tons for the whole Region!
In Italy an average of 14.9 Kg/person/year of Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are produced, but only 4 Kg of it are recycled. In 2012 in the whole world about 49 million tons of WEEE were produced: 11 times as heavy as the Giza pyramids. It is of the utmost importance that WEEE doesn’t get disposed of as indifferentiated waste, since they contain recyclable materials and parts, precious metals and toxic substances.
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