Get Lifted with Ecology!


Population growth and limited resources

The purpose of this post is to understand that the population is growing day by day, and the available resources are limited.

Human population is approximately 6.93 billion people, where Earth’s carrying capacity said to be about 10 – 15 billion people.

Major factors increase human population:

  1. Increase in food production and distribution
  2. Improvements in public health (water and sanitation)
  3. Medical technology

People before many years could have died by a simple flu. Next they were able to fight and cure deadly germs that once killed them. Moreover, because of the technology , people could produce more and different kinds of food. Gradually over the years, these discoveries and inventions spread throughout the world, lowering death rates and improving the quality of life. During the past ten years, the world’s food production has increased by 24 percent, outpacing the rate of population growth.

The Cassandra and Cornucopian debate is an argument between two extreme positions on the prospects for human society and the environment in the face of population and economic growth. Cassandras believe that unchecked growth in numbers of people and material consumption rates will inevitably lead to environmental and social catastrophe. This group is associated with ecologists and environmentalists.

“Cornucopians believe that human ingenuity and free markets will allow the human species to adapt to any conceivable pressures caused by growth of the human enterprise. They are associated with free-market economists. The debate originated at least as far back as Malthus in the eighteenth century, flared up with special intensity in the late 1960s and 1970s over the issue of exhaustible natural resources, and continues in more subdued form today as reflected in the issue of global environmental change.”(1)

Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born 29 May 1932) is an American biologist and educator who is the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and president of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology. By training he is an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies), but he is known better as an ecologist and a demographer, specifically for his warnings about unrestricted population growth and limited resources. Ehrlich became well-known after publication of his controversial 1968 book The Population Bomb.”(2)

Ehrlich is famous for positing three major factors that determine sustainability: population, affluence and technology, and this has been summarized by the equation I PAT (I = P × A × T, such that Human Impact (I) on environment equals the product of Population, Affluence, & Technology).

“Hans Rosling (born 27 July 1948 in Uppsala, Sweden) is a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and public speaker. He is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, which developed the Trendalyzer software system. His current work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world, which is no longer away from the West. In fact, most of the Third World countries are on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity, and many countries are moving twice as fast as the west did.”(3)

“Rosling’s presentations are grounded in solid statistics, and illustrated by the visualization software he developed. The animations transform development statistics into moving bubbles and flowing curves that make global trends clear, intuitive and even playful. His stunning way of presenting the presentations makes him unique and special. Finally, a presentation that tracks global health and poverty trends should be, in a word: boring. But in Rosling’s hands, data  sings and trends come to life.”(4)


(1)Free Article Base, Cornucopians, (October 6, 2010). Retrieved May 10, 2011 from

(2)Wikipedia, Paul R. Erlich, (last modified on May 17, 2011 ). Retrieved May 10, 2011 from

(3)Wikipedia, Hans Rosling (last modified on April 24, 2011). Retrieved May 10, 2011 from

(4)TED “Ideas Worth Spreading”, Hans Rosling (TED2007). Retrieved May 10, 2011 from

EF vs Food Production & Distribution vs Gas Prices

The purpose of this assignment is to understand better how ecological footprint can be affected from different kind of factors. Factors such as food production, cost of food distribution and transportation and gas prices are interdependent and have a heavy impact to the environment and the ecological footprint.

The amount of land you would need to support your lifestyle is called your Ecological Footprint. The EF is a way of measuring the impact a person can has on the environment. “An ecological footprint represents the total area of land and water needed to produce the resources a given person or population uses, together with the total amount of land and water needed to dispose of their waste. The footprints of  the affluent societies of today’s industrialized nations tend to be much larger than the geographic areas these societies take up directly.” (1)

The ecological footprint depends on four broad factors. Population, and the size of our world family (The more the people the less ecological capacity available per person). Ecosystem health, and the efforts to protect other species, and to help ecosystems. Technology, meaning how cleanly and efficiently we produce goods and services. Consumption and choices such as how much we travel, how large is the home we live in, and what kind of foods we eat.

Food production at distant places and distribution to cities and villages have a negative impact for the ecological footprint. In cases like this the food will grow far away and has to travel many miles to reach to the destination. The cost of transportation increases the cost of the product and also increases the pollution of the environment. To avoid all this and to reduce the ecological footprint as countries and cities and so on we should move on urban agriculture and local food production. This way we will have a locally based, self-reliant food economy. Production, processing, distribution and consumption will help the economic, environmental and social health of particular places. Here is an example Feeding our Cities Future

Food Consumption and Cost

As food production became more industrialized during the 20th century, several trends emerged. One trend was a loss in the number of varieties of crops grown. A second trend was the increasing amount of energy expended to store food and ship it to market. In some countries food may travel long distances to reach the market. In, food travels an average of 1,400 miles from the field to the table. The price American pay for the food covers the cost of this long-distance transportation, which in 2004 was approximately only one dollar per mile (1.6 km).

Assuming that you are an American (not all of us are in this class), you live in New York City (2009 population estimate 8,363,710), and that the average American eats 1 kg (2 pounds) of food per day, calculate the food transportation costs for each category in the table below (U.S. 2009 population estimates 307,006,550).

Consumer Daily Cost Annual cost
You $1.40 $511
Your class $28 $10,220
Your town (New York) $11,709,194 $4,273,855,810
United States $429,809,170 $156,880,347,050

What specific challenges to environmental sustainability are imposed by a food production and distribution system that relies on long-range transportation to bring food to market?
The most the distance they travel the most fuel they need. Therefore produce more pollution and more burdens for the environment. Finally we need more fuel to cover all the possible distances and a maximum level of pollution produced against the environment.

A study by Pirog and Benjamin (2003) noted that locally produced food in theU.S.traveled only 80 kilometers (appx 50miles) or so to the market, thus saving 96% of the transportation costs. Locally grown foods may be fresher and cause less environmental impact as they are brought to market, but what are the disadvantages to you as a consumer in relying on local food production? Do you think the advantages outweigh those disadvantages?

Locally grown food production can increase the local economy; people will have healthy and pure products made out without chemical add-ons. Moreover, transportation and consumption cost for the food will decrease. The only disadvantage that I can think is that they will not be able to a have a variety of different kind of products because of different factors. For example, the soil may not allow some plants to grow or the climate and the way it changes. But still there are alternatives.

What happened to the gasoline prices recently? How would future increases in the price of gas affect your answers to the preceding questions?

Price for Gasoline, if not every week but for sure every month, is dramatically increasing. For this reason, an alternative way is to use gas which is really cheap until now and it has a lower rate of consumption per kilometer than gasoline has. But still since we are living in a world with a lot of competition the prices will increase. And not only prices for gas and gasoline but for most of the goods. Especially the ones that travels big distances around the world.

If you are an American, how do you think these figures apply to other countries or your country? Where do you base your assumptions?

I am not an American but still the annual cost for US is nothing; compared to the money that Greek politicians made because of their position. However I think that this amount of money for feeding all the US citizens is pretty much ok. I believe for Greece will be more or less the same as US if we consider that most of the Greek people eat a lot of food.

(2) Urban Farming


(1)  Adapted from Wackernagd, M., and W. R<-es.1996. Our ecological footprint: Reducing humaimpact on theEarth.Gabriola Island, British Columbia:New Society Publishers

(2) YouTube, “Urban Farmin Grows Up” (October 22, 2008). Retrieved May 1, 2011 from

MidTerm preparation for Ecology class

The purpose of this assignment is to give different ideas and options to our instructor to use in future quizes, tests, exams and finals.

Chapter 1 is an introduction to the nature of Environmental Science, Environmental Ethics and Sustainability

1. Recognize the two phenomena that caused a remarkable increase in the population size in human history.

2. An ecological footprint represents the total area of land and water needed to produce the resources a given person or population uses, together with the total amount of land and water needed to dispose of their waste.
a) True
b) False

3. Describe the three main interests of environmental scientists.

4. Environmental science is the pursuit of knowledge about the workings of the environment and our interactions with it.
a) True
b) False

5. Environmentalism is
a) the same as an environmental science
b) a social movement
c) a political movement
d) a social network

6. What are the three dynamic processes of science?
a) Observation, testing and retesting
b) Observation, hypothesis and testing
c) Observation, testing and discovery
d) Observation, testing and examine

7. The scientific method is a traditional approach
a) to test
b) to observe
c) to research
d) to develop a hypothesis

8. An anthropocentrist
a) extends ethical standing only to humans
b) judges actions in terms of their effects on people
c) is considered as a negligible value anything that will not provide benefit to people
d) all of the above

9. Sustainability means
a) living within our planet’s means
b) leaving our children and grandchildren a world as rich and full as the world we live in now
c) developing solution that work in the long-term
d) all of the above

10. Match the following
a) Sunlight
b) Wind energy
c) Geothermal energy                                                                                         Renewable natural resources
d) Fresh water                                                                                                    Nonrenewable natural resources
e) Natural gas
f) Copper, aluminum, and other metals
g) Soils

Chapter 2 is about Earth’s Environmental Systems, Ecosystems, Energy and Chemistry

11. DNA and RNA carry the hereditary information for organisms and are responsible for hiding traits from parents to offspring.
a) True
b) False

12. The largest part of energy coming from the sun is visible
a) True
b) False

13. Illustrate the difference between a volcano and an earthquake

14. Every atom has a nucleus of
a) electrons, protons
b) neutrons, electrons
c) protons, neutrons
d) none of the above

15. The following equation represents the
a) carbon dioxide
b) magma
c) photosynthesis
d) combination of a and b

16. Energy is converted to
a) production
b) electricity
c) biomass
d) all of the above

17. Tectonics produces
a) air
b) energy
c) earth’s landforms
d) species

18. Nutrients are elements and compounds that organisms consume and require for
a) survival
b) food production
c) carbon production
d) all of the above

19. Explain the difference between heterotrophs and autotrophs

20. Fill in the gaps with the appropriate word (visible light, infrared, microwaves, gamma rays, radio waves, x-rays, ultraviolet)

Chapter 3 is about Evolution as the Wellspring of Earth’s Biodiversity, Population Ecology and Levels of Ecological Organizations

21. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace together proposed the concept of natural selection as a mechanism for evolution and as a way to explain the great variety of living things.
a. True
b. False

22. Natural selection occurs when
a. You break your finger
b. You go blind
c. You genetic makeup of a population changes
d. You become fat

23. Match the Following words(circle one)
a. Evolving of trait that lead to better reproduction of an organism in a given Environment
Circle one: Adaptation; Adaptive Trait; Species; Biodiversity; population; Species; Mutation;
b. A trait that promotes successful adaptation
Circle one: Adaptation; Adaptive Trait; Species; Biodiversity; population; Species; Mutation;
c. The variety of life across all levels of biological organization
Circle one: Adaptation; Adaptive Trait; Species; Biodiversity; population; Species; Mutation;
d. A group of individuals of a particular species that live in a particular area
Circle one: Adaptation; Adaptive Trait; Species; Biodiversity; Population; Species; Mutation;
e. A mistake in the copying of recopying of the DNA
Circle one: Adaptation; Adaptive Trait; Species; Biodiversity; population; Species; Mutation;

24. Artificial selection is when
a. God makes a selection
b. Selection is done by nature
c. Selection is made by species
d. Selection is made by humans

25. In your own words describe the aged distribution of the graph below. In this case Albanian.


26. Population density describes the number of individuals in a population per unit area.
a. True
b. False

27. When the population size is larger
a. The population is more vulnerable to extinction
b. The stronger the effects of environmental resistance
c. The population is not well adapted to the environment
d. The weaker the effects of environmental resistance

28. Please sketch a sketch that shows an exponential and linear growth curve of a population.

29. Limiting factors that constrained the population growth are
a. Physical
b. Chemical
c. Biological
d. All of the above

30. An ecosystem is
a. The sum total of living things on earth and the areas they inhabit
b. A group of individuals of a species that live in a particular area
c. A functional system consisting of a community, its nonliving environment, and the interactions between them
d. None of the above

Chapter 4 is about Species Interactions, Ecological Communities and Biomes

31. Match the sentences with the words underneath them
The full niche of an individual
Circle one: Species coexistence; Parasitism; Intraspecific Competition; Interspecific Competition; Resource Portioning; Fundamental Niche

Competitive interaction among members of the same specie
Circle one: Species coexistence; Parasitism; Intraspecific Competition;
Interspecific Competition; Resource Portioning; Fundamental Niche

Natural selection favoring one bird species becoming more active in the morning and one in the evening
Circle one: Species coexistence; Parasitism; Intraspecific Competition; Interspecific Competition; Resource Portioning; Fundamental Niche

Competition among members of two or more different species
Circle one: Species coexistence; Parasitism; Intraspecific Competition; Interspecific Competition; Resource Portioning; Fundamental Niche

When an organism depends on another for nourishment or some other benefits while simultaneously doing the host harm
Circle one: Species coexistence; Parasitism; Intraspecific Competition; Interspecific Competition; Resource Portioning; Fundamental Niche

32. Distinguish Predation with Parasitism:
33. Human are Parasite creatures.
a. True
b. False

34. Mutualism and Parasitism deal with the relation of one organism with another.
a. True
b. False

35. All of the choices below are Earth’s terrestrial Biomes EXCEPT
a. Desert
b. Boreal Forest
c. Tropical Sea Forest
d. Temperate Grassland

36. A food chain is
a. The food that humans eats
b. A linear series of feeding relations
c. The food that the monkey eats
d. The food that the cows eats

37. Amensalism can be best described when
a. One organism is harmed and the other benefits
b. Both organism benefit
c. One organism is harmed and the other is unaffected
d. Both organism are harmed

38. Which are the two ways communities deal with the disturbance
a. Resistance and Refusal
b. Resistance and Resilience
c. Resilience and Refusal
d. Refusal and Reconstruction

39. The highest rates of precipitation can be found in
a. Savanna’s
b. Tropical Dry Forests
c. Deserts
d. Tropical Rain Forests

40. Illustrate the differences between the Savanna biome and the Desert Biome:

Chapter 6 is about Environmental Economics and Environmental Policies

41. Standard neoclassical economics focuses on processes of production and consumption between households and businesses
a) True
b) False

42. Distinguish five types of ecosystem services

43. River pollution creates
a) profits to the company
b) pollution to the village too
c) external costs
d) internal expenses

44. Ecosystem services are said to have
a) market values
b) very high values
c) nonmarket values
d) option values

45. What is the purpose of Eco labeling?

46. Environmental policymaking is a problem-solving pursuit that makes use of science and ethics
a) True
b) False

47. Removing toxins, recovering nutrients, controlling pollution
a) regulating atmospheric gases
b) regulating climate
c) treating waste
d) all of the above

48. Providing ecological settings in which creatures can breed, feed, rest, migrate, winter
a) providing recreational opportunities
b) providing habitat
c) providing natural resources
d) providing goods

49. Which of the following provide recreational opportunities?
a) aesthetic, artistic, educational, spiritual, and/or scientific values of ecosystems
b) ecotourism, sport fishing, hiking, birding, kayaking, other outdoor recreation
c) producing lumber, fuel, metals, fodder
d) producing fish, game, crops, nuts, and fruits

50. Match the following pictures with the appropriate descriptions
(use values, aesthetic values, educational values, option values, scientific values, existence values, cultural values)

Environmental Issue in Keratea, Athens

Keratea is a city 40 km near Athens, and it’s population is approximately 7.701 people.  For fifteen years now people are fighting with the police and the government, in order to close the illegal waste land. Approximately 4 to 5 tons of garbage thrown uncontrollably every month, in Keratea which is just few hundred meters from the highway, and a few meters from residential areas. And not only uncontrolled waste deposit, but allow neighboring municipalities to use the illegal dump over 100,000 euros and more annually.

With similar landfill projects outlined for Grammatiko and Fyli, in northern and eastern Attica respectively, Keratea completes the waste management strategy for Athens and its surrounding areas – part of a regional plan first conceived in the mid-1990s. Of these, only the Fyli plant has been built  according to experts, and will as a result follow its predecessor in neighboring Ano Liosia and Fyli well, before its time.

Protest against the dump site in Ovriocastro, Keratea (1)

Ten major reasons against the creation of the waste land:

  1. The area belongs to the region of Lavreotiki designated a place of natural beauty
  2. The area is a historical and archaeological site
  3. In the center of the place in which planned to place the dump there is a water source
  4. The area is rich in mineral, both in quantity and variety of ores
  5. There are ancient mining galleries dating from the 5th BC century
  6. The area is preached for reforestation
  7. Inside the planning area there are a lot of legal houses and residences
  8. The seismic fault region intersects perpendicularly the proposed site
  9. The area crossed by the pipeline gas
  10. The Mouzaki water streams crosses along the whole of the site
The alternative solution

ACCORDING to Filippos Kirkitsos, president of the Ecological Recycling Society, the maths speaks for itself. Attica produces some 2.5 million tonnes of waste a year, beyond the amount recycled from the blue-bin program. All of this currently goes to Fyli, north of Athens, the capital’s only legal waste-treatment plant currently in operation. The proposed plants in Keratea and Grammatiko, in southeastern and northern Attica respectively, will, according to the government, handle a combined 300,000 tonnes a year.

“Either they are trying to fool us and the real amount will be more like a million tonnes a year, or the current two-year life expectancy of Fyli will be two years and five months,” he says. “Essentially, nothing changes. This is not the solution.”
Far better, Kirkitsos says, would be for the government to tear up its regional plan for waste management and incorporate far more extensive recycling and composting programs.

“Residential recycling should be extended to include four separate bins [according to material], not just the one in operation now. If we do this, the landfills in Grammatiko and Keratea wouldn’t even be necessary,” he says. “Instead of a waste management plant at each site that would allow for the processing of 150,000 tonnes a year, we are suggesting two composting plants for organic waste of 300,000 tonnes.”
And with recycling sorting centers capable of handling 100,000 tonnes at each site, Grammatiko and Keratea would be, he says, able to handle a total of 800,000 tonnes of “green” waste, reducing the volume considerably, something which is better and cheaper. (4)


The future of Ovriocastro, Keratea (2)

Cities without a garbage can and must become a reality, provided the political leadership to make the right choices at the major problem of waste management.

Satellite photo of Keratea, Athens (3)


Keratea opposes Construction of Dump Site (5)

“Mr Sotiris Iatrou, city councilor of Keratea says that the city of Keratea proposes alternatives and solutions
for waste-management and recycling. Greece’s laws allow the creation of ‘quick fix’ dumps rather than investing
in long-term waste-treatment and recycling.” (6)

“Mrs Helen says that she wouldn’t expect to riot with police in her 50’s of age. I am a conservative person.
I am afraid of things getting worse and more violent and I would expect to find a solution by using dialogue.
But authorities and do not want a solution as they show.” (7)



(1) Pathfinder News, Photoscope, Greece (February 14, 2010). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(2) YouTube, “Ovriocastro” (April 16, 2010). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(3) Google Maps “Keratea”. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(4) Thrasy Petropoulos, “The Alternative Solution” (January 23, 2011). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(5) Athens News Online, “Keratea Under Siege” (January 23, 2011). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(6) Demotix, “Resistance in Greece: Keratea opposes Construction of Dump Site” (February 20, 2011). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

(7) Demotix, “Resistance in Greece: Keratea opposes Construction of Dump Site” (February 20, 2011). Retrieved February 22, 2011 from

Total Fertility Rate VS GDP

The graph represents the Total Fertility Rate over the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on 232 countries. From the graph we can say that the average fertility rate is approximately 2.5, which means about two to three children per female. Moreover, we can say that the total GDP for all countries is approximately 60.68 trillion dollars per year, where the lowest is 1.5 million dollars per year and the highest 14.6 trillion dollars per year.

Environmental Scientist VS Ecologist VS Environmentalist

  • Environmental Scientists look at environmental problems, and use their expertise to protect natural resources, and come up with solutions. There are many interests in this science. If someone is interested in ecology he/she might research the temperature, pollution and how human activity affect an area. Nowadays environmental scientists are useful, as our population dramatically grows, to preserve water, study and design sites for waste disposal, control pollution, and repair damaged natural areas. Their work is to face and solve some of the most serious environmental issues facing the world.
  • Ecologist basic principle, is that all life in earth is connected and it should live together in harmony, although in some cases we have seen the exact opposite. Ecologists study the relationships between living organisms and their environment. Moreover they examine the effects of a wide range of factors such as temperature, population growth, forest fires and many other. They study and try solve the impact that many human activities have on the environment and the ecosystem in the long run. There are many biological areas where ecologist specialize such as botany, microbiology, toxicology and many other tasks concerned with conservation of the environment. Usually they study, research and collect samples. After they collect all the necessary criteria, they bring it into the laboratory to analyze them with various tools and techniques.
  • Environmentalist is a person who speaks out about natural environment and the sustainable management of its resources by changing public policies or individual behaviors. Environmentalists and environmental organizations are based in a broad philosophy regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the state of the environment.

In my opinion from these three I would prefer to be an Environmental Scientist, simply because I think they are the most active members concerning about the environment and the ecosystem.