Canada: My Ecological Footprint

Environment   Oct 31, 2017 by Polina

Water Footprint Calculator

1.  What part of your ecological footprint most surprised you?

   After getting my ecological footprint results, I was greatly surprised and alarmed by my transportation stats (2.8 gha). I was aware that in Burnaby, 50% of carbon dioxide emissions arise from transportation (“Burnaby Community Energy and Emissions Plan”) and yet I never thought that carpooling once in awhile had such a negative environmental impact. What was even more surprising is that I thought that my omnivore habits would cause my food consumption average to soar above the rest; in reality, only 0.8 gha was deduced from my answers on food consumption and that makes this particular category the second lowest in my carbon print overview.

2. How did your footprint compare to your city’s average (if available) and your country’s average?

  My carbon footprint was 16 tonnes which is slightly above the average 15.61 tonnes per capita in Canada as of 2016. When it comes to British Columbia, however, my carbon footprint is not favoured since it goes above what the province is standing at, which is 13.2 tonnes per capita (as of 2012).

3. Find a location with a smaller carbon footprint from yours, within your own country if possible. What is different about this community from your own? What can you learn from this?

  Quebec is a Canadian province that boasts the carbon footprint of 9.7 tonnes per capita, a lower number than that of its British Columbia counterpart . According to Kazi Stastna, senior writer of CBC News, “97 per cent of Quebec’s electricity that is generated comes from renewable sources” like hydro power. This working system along with the cap-and-trade system implementation make it rather efficient and explain their significantly lower carbon footprint than that of British Columbia. My province, B.C., has also taken steps to lower its carbon dioxide emissions. However, it remains to be the biggest exporter of coal and although it showed its interest in the cap-and-trade policy, Liberal government cancelled the province’s plans for the project. After doing this research, I was able to conclude that each Canadian province holds the water issue at its own level of priority and it is important for us to examine all progress in the country before coming up with solutions and proposals in general.

4.  What parts of your footprint do you feel is possible to reduce? What parts don’t?

  It is most certainly possible for me to reduce my red meat intake since I feel very sluggish after eating it either on its own or in a combined meal and so by cutting it out of my diet I could help the environment without sacrificing something my body feels in dire need of. However, managing my building’s energy efficiency is not something that is in my power and therefore is something that can not easily reduced.

5.  Read this article about large companies, individual actions, and climate change: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/just-90-companies-are-blame-most-climate-change-carbon-accountant-says. What do you think are the limits and possibilities in affecting climate change by the reduction of individual footprints?

  In a world of constant environmental change, one can not deny that each person holds certain responsibilities in regards to their individual carbon footprint. David Victor’s quote really captures my thoughts about how we are all guilty since we consume like those around us. History has proven that whenever an issue arises, it is up to all of us to join and collectively resolve it whether it is by establishing personal objectives or simply by modifying our lifestyle. In fact, the beauty of the people is that when everyone is dedicated to a cause, it is infinitely more possible to accomplish. On the other hand, a reduction to one individual’s carbon footprint can not possibly equate to that of an enormous corporate company. If at least 2 of the 90 companies devoted some time to environmentally adjusting their methods of product fabrication, the global carbon footprint would lessen exponentially.

                                                                       Sources used:

Stastna, Kazi. “How Canada's Provinces Are Tackling Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” CBCnews,

CBC/Radio Canada, 15 Apr. 2015,

www.cbc.ca/news/canada/how-canada-s-provinces-are-tackling-greenhouse-gas-emissions

-1.3030535.

Water Footprint Calculator

1. Were you surprised by how much water you consumed?

  I was really surprised by how much water I consumed; approximately 2100 cubic meters per year is most certainly a number that I did not expect.

2.  How did your footprint compare to your country’s and the world's average? (You will need to research this.)

    According to reporter Isabel Teotonio from The Star, “the average water footprint for a Canadian is 6,392 litres a day”. That would result in around 2000 cubic meters of water per capita over the course of the whole year which is around the same amount that I got. Meanwhile, the global average water footprint is 1385 cubic meters which goes above the results I have.

3. What parts of your footprint do you feel is possible to reduce? What parts don’t?

 Turning off the tap while scrubbing dishes would be a small but significant step towards improving my water footprint. Meanwhile, I doubt that I would have as much control over how much water could be used for plants since some of them require a larger amount of water to survive.

4. Do some research on a water-based conflict in your country. Which communities have access to water, which ones don’t, and who controls the resource use?

In Canada , 60% of freshwater drains north all while the majority of the population resides in the south of the country (like British Columbia). As a result, the water remains present in areas where it is not needed all while the south area receives very a smaller percentage of it which then tends to get polluted and becomes useless in the end.

  • How do these simulations relate to your community? Do any of them feel irrelevant to your context?

1.  Both the Carbon Dioxide and the Water Footprint simulations were relevant to my Canadian community since Greater Vancouver, British Columbia is known for accommodating millions of people. With all that being said, construction has become an everyday occurrence and it is alarming. If a single car ride can negatively impact one’s carbon footprint, one can only guess how much of an effect industrialization will have on our environment. Moreover, the influx of new citizens calls for more water supply and that was most certainly on my mind while completing the water footprint simulation.

  • How do these simulations help you (or not help you) find your place in combatting climate change?

2.  Clean drinkable water is not a property that can exist forever and so I felt empowered to modify my water usage and would encourage everyone to do the same even if that means turning of the tap when brushing your teeth.While we are provided with clean air and drinkable water, we are and we have been constant consumers; it is time to give back so that the cycle could be kept for as long as possible.

  • Have these simulations changed how you think climate change should be tackled?

3.  The simulations have not changed but rather confirmed my ideas for tackling climate change: if we collectively contribute to reducing our ecological footprint, then the environment will have an easier time reestablishing itself and the generations after us will follow our example. 


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