We and our Ecosystem

How to manage and reduce our ecological footprint?
– by Pradyumn, age 12, a student of Grade 7

Ecology is the study of the relationship between a living organism and its environment. It defines the interactions between organisms including people and places where they live.

All living beings require a list of basic needs such as food to eat, habitat to live, air to breathe, and water to drink. Living things are always interacting with each other and with non-living things in their environment.

An Ecosystem is an interaction between living and non-living things in a particular environment. A forest is a good example of an ecosystem. All of the living things such as trees and animals and all of the non-living things such as the sunlight and the air are interacting.

Humans affect the environment around them as they meet their basic needs. As the human population increases, more and more people have needs that must be met. As their numbers grow, people have a greater impact on the ecosystems around them.

We all depend upon nature, our food and shelter come from natural resources that Earth provided us and all our waste goes back to the Earth. We not only depend on nature, but we are part of nature. People in North America and other wealthy countries use far more than their share of Earth’s natural resources. They are not living in a sustainable manner.

Impact on the Ecosystem
Sustainability means that the resources of nature are being renewed at least as quickly as they are used and that all wastes are able to be completely absorbed. People are concerned at the rate in which our forests are being cut down or fish are being harvested, for example. Are we living sustainably or are we living far beyond the ability of Earth to provide what we want?
Each human has an individual impact on the environment. The difference lies in how much of an impact we have on our environment. For example, the surface of our planet covers 51 Billion Hectares. Excluding the oceans, deserts, mountaintops, etc. only about 8.54 Billion hectares of usable land remains. If this land were equally divided amongst 6.7 Billion people in the world, each person would have less than 1.5 Hectares. In reality though, the average Canadian would need about 6.9 hectares of land or about 6 city blocks. If everyone in the world continued to live as we do in North America, we would need at least 3 or more planets the size of the earth to provide the resources and absorb the wastes.

One way to determine how much of an impact we have is to determine our ecological footprint or EFP. An ecological footprint is a calculation of the total area of land and water needed to supply all of the materials and energy that we use as well as absorb all of the waste that we produce.

Please calculate your own EFP by visiting the following website with the link below:

Each of us can reduce our impact on the environment and the size of our EFP. Steps in this direction are:

» Awareness of the natural resources we consume
» Reduce the amount of energy we use and the number of products we buy
» Reduce the amount of garbage we produce
» Reuse the products or give them to charities rather than throwing them away
» Recycle products that can not be reused.
» Be a Vegetarian and avoid energy and water-intensive processed foods such as meat, fish, chicken, and eggs.
» Together, if we resolve, we can reduce our ecological footprint and still save this planet and its ecosystems.


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