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Canberrans impact on our earth is getting worse

letsdoitcanberra 14 December 2010 8

report cover

A report from the ACT Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment (OCSE) has found the lifestyles of the people of Canberra are consuming more of the earth’s natural resources than they were ten years ago.

The “2008-2009 Ecological Footprint for the ACT” which was prepared by Dr Chris Dey of the University of Sydney’s Integrated Sustainability Analysis research group, on behalf of the OCSE, reveals a steady increase in the amount of natural resources required to meet the lifestyle needs of Canberrans.

The Ecological Footprint, expressed in global hectares, measures the amount of land required to support a communitys’ demand for goods and services, shelter, transport, food and energy. It also takes into account the area needed to absorb our waste (including greenhouse gasses).

In 2008-2009, the average Canberran consumed 9.2 global hectares, 8% higher than 5 years ago and almost 25% higher than 10 years ago. The current Ecological Footprint was 13% above the national average.

The Ecological Footprint is a measure that helps us understand the link between lifestyles and our world’s resources

Steps that Canberrans can take to ease the pressure on our earth include:

  • Repair, reuse or borrow where possible instead of buying new things.
  • Before tossing something in the bin, see if there is another use for it.
  • Buy quality goods that are efficient and will last a long time.
  • Invest in an activity as an alternative to purchasing goods, e.g Concerts, movies, picnics
  • Use renewable energy

Canberrans are being asked to provide comments and suggestions on how to reduce their footprint to the Office that will be included in the State of the Environment Report for 2011.

The full report can be found at www.envcomm.act.gov.au


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8 Responses to Canberrans impact on our earth is getting worse
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Richard Bender Richard Bender 5:57 pm 14 Dec 10

If the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment wants to reduce Canberra’s ecological footprint, it could start by discarding the flawed methodology used to calculate said footprint.

The footprint is calculated by saying we need X amount of land for food, Y amount for energy, Z amount for water and so on and then saying our footprint is equal to X+Y+Z. In reality, land is used for multiple purposes, e.g. the catchment for Googong Dam is farmland and crops sequester carbon dioxide.

The second major flaw is that it uses ABS household expenditure data as a proxy for consumption without ever examining what expenditure is for. If someone spends $70,000 on a small C-class Mercedes, are they using more resources than someone who spends $20,000 on a Ford Focus?

arescarti42 arescarti42 8:12 pm 14 Dec 10

Richard Bender said :

If the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment wants to reduce Canberra’s ecological footprint, it could start by discarding the flawed methodology used to calculate said footprint.

It’s probably a pretty useless metric for quantifying absolute environmental impact, but is probably reasonably useful for comparing impact between time periods and states.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 10:37 pm 14 Dec 10

The steps to ease pressure on our earth are ridiculous.
Repairing something instead of buying a new one – Often costs more than the price of a new item, minimum call out fee for any repairman is usually well over $100. Then there’s the greenhouse gas emissions for his travel to and from your place plus return trip to make the repairs.

Tossing something in the bin is a result of a person coming to the conclusion that the item is not required and serves no further function. Should we all become hoarders and use our houses as halfway houses for rubbish? If its rubbish, throw it away.The reuse places end up clearing out their warehouses because most of the junk is just that, junk. If you decide to take something there instead of throwing it away, you’ve just used your car to do it and created more greenhouse gases.

Buy quality goods that will last a long time? NOTHING is made to last these days. Even if you do get the extended 7 – 10 year warranty, I’d like to know how many items are repaired rather than replaced. What do you do with all the replaced items then?? Clearly goes against the principle of the first idea.

Investing in other activities instead of purchasing goods? What the? Concerts and movies are power hungry activities far more than home TV sets or DVD players [lighting, air conditioning, projection equipment] and again you’ve travelled in a vehicle to get there. Picnics are a good idea, though not as much fun after the fourteenth time, unlike Spaceballs or Lord of the Rings.

Use renewable energy – The only way to do this is to disconnect from the grid and install a stand alone power system. End of story. The power grid is a complex machine the size of Australia that if gets destabilized by changes such as connecting solar backfeed systems causes more problems than solutions. Research solar back feed systems and see what I’m talking about.

Agree with Richard, most of Canmberrans’ income is spent on their mortgages or rent, not on consumables.
I haven’t got the answers, but I think university educated folks should have some better ideas than these pathetic ones.

The cat did it The cat did it 11:12 pm 14 Dec 10

+ 1 for Richard Bender’s comments. The household expenditure/consumption proxy assumption in particular is one that seems to have escaped critical attention.

‘scuse me while i go outside and wallow in moral guilt …

housebound housebound 11:34 pm 14 Dec 10

City states are unsustainable – every city needs a hinterland to balance its consumption.
Footprints are hard to calculate. The question is not whether any method is flawed, but how flawed it is.

In practical terms, why are our feet getting bigger?

If you look at the steps the Commissioner suggested, then you would have to lay the blame on cheap Chinese imports – it is increasingly hard to find quality, efficient goods that last a long time.

facet facet 9:43 am 15 Dec 10

Great photo of the lake.

astrojax astrojax 11:12 am 15 Dec 10

Richard Bender said :

If the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment wants to reduce Canberra’s ecological footprint, it could start by discarding the flawed methodology used to calculate said footprint.

The footprint is calculated by saying we need X amount of land for food, Y amount for energy, Z amount for water and so on and then saying our footprint is equal to X+Y+Z. In reality, land is used for multiple purposes, e.g. the catchment for Googong Dam is farmland and crops sequester carbon dioxide.

mebbe, but if this methodology is consistent across jurisdictions then the comparative analysis stands and it remains the case that canberrans consume more of the earth than their state peers, and much more than many global peers in developed countries. not good.

[nips outside to tend to veges and realises i didn’t plant much this year – d’oh! at least i get most vege needs from choku baijo]

michcon michcon 1:44 pm 15 Dec 10

wildturkeycanoe said :

Use renewable energy – The only way to do this is to disconnect from the grid and install a stand alone power system. End of story. The power grid is a complex machine the size of Australia that if gets destabilized by changes such as connecting solar backfeed systems causes more problems than solutions. Research solar back feed systems and see what I’m talking about.

End of story? Really? Have you heard about Greenchoice? 17,000 ActewAGL customers had already subscribed to it by end of March 2010. Solar back feed? If you knew your facts, you would also be aware that laws require breakers be installed that shutdown PV systems on detection that the grid supply has been interrupted.

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