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Ecological Footprints

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31. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 10y

CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
FOOD 4
MOBILITY 5.3
SHELTER 2.7
GOODS/SERVICES 6.2
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 18.2

IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 8.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 10.1 PLANETS.

Too much ordering out of meat dishes and flying everywhere, I suppose. I can't argue with the flying, but am a little suspcious of the GOODS/SERVICES number. I'm not sure how they got that, because there is only one question, and I answered I produce much less waste than others in my area.

I try and be good when I am at home, however. I try not to take a bag when I go to the grocery store (reduce packaging), I either walk or take the transit when I am going somewhere in town and I live in a high rise apartment building in a dense, well serviced by transit area of town.

I saw an interesting (sort of interesting, I should say) exhibit at the skyscraper museum in New York City last weekend about green buildings, much of it available on their website. Toronto is now struggling with the impacts of urban sprawl, and trying to become a more dense city. Supposedly, in the next 10 year 1 million people are going to move into Toronto, and by 2032 another 3 million people will be in the Toronto area (moving the population of the region to close to 8 million people). Traffic is getting to a crisis point, and the city is at the limit of the amount of outward sprawl it can do. So the only answer is denser neighbourhoods.

But there is so much resistance to the idea of higher, taller, denser buildings in the area, and we keep building billion dollar subway lines to underpopulated areas while underserving the denser core of the city. Hopefully the citizens of Toronto can find a solution and build a city that meets the needs of the growing population without sacrificing the environment (and making traffic an absolute nightmare).

Greg

32. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 10y

Quoting Q-Tip

I don't see how switching to trains or ships helps since you'll generate more pollution moving the same number of people the same distance taking a much longer time so you have to burn more fuel ? It's just switching the pollution source around and getting in people's way. Seems like a gutt reaction bandaide solution rather than addressing the real problems.

Interesting reading Quan, though I have a hard time trusting sources that are based on industry press releases. The estimations I've seen in recent times seem to agree that airline travel emits 3 times as much CO2 as train travel and add to that the fact that they also produce Nitrous Oxide which supposedly multiplies the greenhouse impact 3-fold again, making it 9 times as bad for the environment as a train trip of similar length.

source from Coinet

Really the moral of the story is that it is better to stay at home I have a very hard time dealing with that.

I simply cannot see an alternative to flying when it comes to long haul (boats are supposedly no better due to the extra space requirements). But when it comes to short trips (under 500km), I think trains/buses are quite acceptable.

You also rightly point out the large contribution of airfreight to the airline industry. I think one of the best things we can do is try to ensure we buy locally made products. And if we do need imported products, we should ensure that they were shipped or transported overland rather than flown. Such things were unfortunately not considered in the footprints survey.

And greg, I agree - that goods/services number is just out of proportion. It is due to the air travel, but categorised inappropriately.

33. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 10y

Quoting Peter

I have a hard time trusting sources that are based on industry press releases.

I do too. About all I wanted people to get out of that was an idea of the work being done. There is a UN organization out there putting out tough guidelines and monitoring the emmissions, and the aircraft industry is forced to respond to it or they can't sell their stuff. Hit's 'em right in the pocketbooks. The competition in the industry is so great that they're forced by the marketplace to be proactive and shoot for the toughest GLOBAL regulations in meeting environmental standards. I'd like to see your local public transit service do that!

Most people think of vacation travel as a luxury so it makes them feel better if they give it up for the "greater good". Whereas in reality, it makes little difference, and you're better off supporting organizations like ICAO who will actually do something. Another source I forgot to mention are military flights. Those engines are maximized for power irregardless of anything else, including of course emmissions.

34. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 10y

9*6hr (toronto to heathrow) = 54 hr of emmissions

54/24 = 2.25 days of emmissions

Assuming same types of emmissions and a lot of other things, that's how long I have to cross the atlantic by train and ship. Can you even do that ???

35. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 10y

contrails

36. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 10y

Quoting Q-Tip

Most people think of vacation travel as a luxury so it makes them feel better if they give it up for the "greater good". Whereas in reality, it makes little difference, and you're better off supporting organizations like ICAO who will actually do something.

I really have trouble agreeing with that. I think that cutting out long distance travel is the single largest personal difference you could make. The fact that it requires such strict regulation only proves to me that it is far more damaging than other forms of transport. Perhaps trams and trains don't require that sort of regulation, because everyone agrees they're the least of anyone's concerns.

9*6hr (toronto to heathrow) = 54 hr of emmissions

54/24 = 2.25 days of emmissions

Assuming same types of emmissions and a lot of other things, that's how long I have to cross the atlantic by train and ship. Can you even do that ???

Firstly, emissions are measured by how much CO2 is emitted not how many hours it takes. And boats are not really any better than planes anyway. They use about the same amount of fuel as a plane would, due largely to the extra services/facilities required for such a long trip and often they don't burn very cleanly either.

Trains on the other hand (assuming it would even be possible, which of course it isn't) would probably take about 25(ish) hours, maybe less, if a high speed one were to exist and will emit only about a third of the CO2 a plane would.

Try The UK National Energy Foundation calculator to compare emissions.

According to that calculator, a one way flight from Toronto to Heathrow would manage to generate about 1032 kgCO2 versus 356 kgCO2 by train. And that's not taking into account the trebling effect of planes' Nitrous Oxide emissions. In comparison, the average person in Canada generates roughly 1000 kgCO2 from electricity consumption each year.

So either way, it's not going to be great news. I do like to be aware of the effect I am having though and maybe buy a few trees to help offset it somewhat / appease my conscience ;)

37. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 10y

Quoting Peter

I think that cutting out long distance travel is the single largest personal difference you could make.

Yet, there are many other reasons to fly (business, family, etc.) than just leisure travel. Airlines will still have scheduled flights. A passenger airplane will still takeoff and produce emissions whether it's full or not. It's everyone's personal choice what they do. But, my opinion is that it's a dis-service to the environment not to use transportation to it's full capacity. It's the same argument used by all forms of mass transport.

Quoting Peter

The fact that it requires such strict regulation only proves to me that it is far more damaging than other forms of transport.....And boats are not really any better than planes anyway.

Yet, there aren't the same strict regulations that govern the world's shipping. The basis of my argument isn't that aircraft don't pollute. They do. As do trains that put out their own emmissions and require tracks and disrupt wildlife habitat. And as do ships that pollute the air and water. And once you consider all the impacts airtravel has, makes it no better than any other form of transportation. My argument is that, from what I've seen, the aircraft industry is the most proactive in its environmental stance and this should be encouraged and makes it better in the long term. A 9 times emmissions isn't insurmountable.

The environmental movement wants us to leave our children with clean air and wildspaces. I think we should ALSO leave our children with the chance to travel and see other countries as well. And you can't do that by cutting out long distance travel. Staying informed, and choosing the right form of transport for the particular trip is probably healthiest for both us and for the environment.

38. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 10y

Quoting Q-Tip

Yet, there are many other reasons to fly (business, family, etc.) than just leisure travel. Airlines will still have scheduled flights.

Yes, of course. Though arguably businesses can also cut down redundant flights. But I digress. I read somewhere that something like 40% of flights in Europe are under 500km. It's a distance that is very achievable by train in a pretty similar time to air travel. But airlines enjoy tax free fuel and can now seemingly throw plane tickets away. It's a false economy.

And yes, it is true that flights will still take off, but the simple reality of supply and demand is that if there is less demand (ie, if people start to consider their trips more carefully) then supply will decrease. People's wallets are usually the most powerful driver of change. If airlines start to lose business because of their environmental impact, then you can bet they will start to take it more seriously. They will either be forced to cut the frequency of flights or clean up real fast.

But, my opinion is that it's a dis-service to the environment not to use transportation to it's full capacity.

Could you imagine 6 billion people using transportation to its full capacity? Do you really think that would be a service to the environment?

Saying we should support the airline industry because they need to improve seems like supporting the asbestos industry because we want them to improve. It seems absurd to me.

Interestingly, I spoke to a guy at an 'eco-house' near here today and he told me that the fridges from the 60s actually use 60% less electricity than the current ones (even the efficient ones) and the most environmentally fridge you can get is a second hand one from back then. So 40 years of supporting that industry seems to have only had a negative effect.

The basis of my argument isn't that aircraft don't pollute. They do. As do trains that put out their own emmissions and require tracks and disrupt wildlife habitat. And as do ships that pollute the air and water.

I understand and those are good points. And correspondingly my stance isn't that trains don't pollute either. The only real environmental solution is to not travel as much (or simply travel shorter distances).

A 9 times emmissions isn't insurmountable.

Well, it's 9 times that of train travel. Not 9 times a sustainable level. I think that it is insurmountable. I don't think even the airline industry dares to dream of such a change.

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