Personal consumption on the environment

The biosphere 2 environment has some parallels with the real world we live in biosphere 1. As a result certain conditions are shared between the two when it comes to sustaining the life of a person in Biosphere 2 and the sustainability of a persons lifestyle in the real world (Schulze, 1996). Life in the world and in the biosphere 2 needs to be supported in the same way since human have some basic needs even in enclosed space (Schulze, 1996). Some of the key needs that might not be directly measurable are like oxygen which is required in both spheres.

In the biosphere 2 the biospherians experienced higher levels of carbon monoxide which had to be regulated as would happen in enclosed space (Schulze, 1996). Oxygen levels were also reduced to unforeseen circumstance like the cement concrete. Provisions have to be made in both spheres for that. In exploring my footprint even though air does not have a price tag, land available for use like forests directly affects the quality of air available (Pound et al, 2003). Food is also quite basic and as such provisions have to be made for the cultivation of foods that will offer sufficient nutrition for people (Pound et al, 2003).

In the biosphere for example the biospherians experienced effects of the new diet. They lost weight due to the changes but in time adapted to it. In the real world life has to be sustained with food enough in quantity and quality for the normal function of people (Chivian  Bernstein, 2008). In both spheres people also need to account for waste disposal (Pound et al, 2003). This is because in the limited space of biosphere 2 care has to be taken so that waste does not negatively affect the environment, for example pollute clean water, or take up too much space (Pound et al, 2003).

Without proper management of waste toxins can enter the environment (Schulze, 1996). Proper management of waste can also enhance the environment. For example, food and plants not fit for consumption by the biospherians could be fit for the animals and some of it could also be used as manure (Schulze, 1996). In my footprints waste requires fossil and forest land to deal with. A reduction in my waste would save or free up fossil and forest for other uses (Pound et al, 2003).
In the project of calculating my footprint size, I noticed that some categories had huge sizes while some had less. Each shows factors contributed most to its size. Although I might have expected housing, heating and food to account for higher contribution it is surprising that transport that is by far the greatest contributor. My transport was at an amount of 2000.

The least contributor was goods. In my footprint, I spend the least on goods at an amount of 6.8. In the goods category the most used resource is pasture for the wool, followed by fossil which is used in the production of almost every item and finally land arable land for the cigarettes and cotton. Using cotton more than wool would reduce my footprint hectares as well as doing away with smoking.
The next contributor is waste at an amount of 7. The most resource used here is fossil followed by forest. Paper and paperboard used up most fossil as well as consumed the most forest. This would indicate that reducing paper used or wasted would reduce fossil use (EPA, 2010). At the same time, by recycling paper I would reduce my forest consumption since trees are used to make new paper (EPA, 2010).

The next category is services at an amount of 80. The most resource used is forest and then fossil. Forest is for the house under house insurance. Fossil is for telephone services. However the most fossil is consumed for entertainment purposes. In order to reduce my footprint size I would need to cut down on the use of telephone service and reduce my entertainments to make the most impact on fossil reduction.

The next category is food at an amount of 142.2. The most used resource in this category was pasture, followed by fossil and arable land. The most use for pasture was for milk and its products followed by production of beef. Most fossil use was for eating out followed by fish production. To reduce my footprint I would need to cut consumption of some milk or beef which contribute the most to a large footprint in this category. Though vegetables, potatoes and fruits have the largest amount in the category they use much less fossil and arable land.

The next category is housing at an amount of 780. In this category the most used resources are fossil and forest. The most amount of fossil was used for thermally produced electricity followed by the running of major appliances. In this category the forest use was for the singular purpose of the brick house. To reduce my footprint in this category, since housing is a basic need I would need to make cuts in my electricity use and reduce my use of major appliances (EPA, 2010).

The last category is transport at an amount of 2191. This category is much more than all the other categories combined. The most used resource in this category is fossil followed by built-up land. This is for the car itself and for its parts. The other resource used, the built-up land, is for the car parking. To make reduction in this category would require removal of the car as my mode of transport since the other consumptions are directly related to the car.

The footprint allows me to look at the whole picture. There are aspects of the footprints that are sustainable while others are not. My footprint exceeds the global average of 1.5 by as much as four times. The greatest contributors are fossil and forests. Both of these resources are being quickly used up (Pound et al, 2003) . Fossil makes 40 of my total amount while forests take up 19. Exhaustion of these two resources poses a unique challenge. Fossil is made in the earth over long duration of time and is exhaustible (Pound et al, 2003). Thus my lifestyle of rapid and huge consumption of it can not be sustained.

Fossil is used in many categories directly and indirectly. The other very notable resource is the forest. While consumption of forests continues to be high, there is evidence that more trees are needed (Pound et al, 2003). Thus the earth needs more trees to be planted as it is. Thus my lifestyle can not be sustained. The other highly consumed resource is arable land. Most of the arable land is used for food production. While this take a big size food is a necessity and production of vegetable food is better sustained than production of animal foods. This is because smaller amounts of animal foods show greater consumption of the resources

For example in my footprint calculation, vegetables, potatoes and fruits have a high amount of 20 but only consume 362 fossil and 218 arable lands. Pork which has an amount of 2.2 consumes 405 fossil and 234 of arable land. Chicken at an amount of 2.5 consumes 362 fossil and 308 arable lands. Beef (grain fed) at only an amount of 1.2 consumes high fossil at 283 and even greater land at 607 arable land and 4,620 pasture. This clearly indicates that animal foods consume more resources. Eating out in the food category consumes a great amount of fossil at 1,013. This can definitely be reduced and made more sustainable.

Transport also indicates an area in my lifestyle that is not sustainable. It consumes too much fossil and yet there are other means of transport that can be interchanged (EPA, 2010). The greatest amounts in the housing category are major appliances and electricity. These two consume the greatest amounts of fossil of any category. These two can be adjusted to consume fewer fossils because if unchecked they deplete the resource at a great speed (EPA, 2010). As there are different categories that make up the foot print, so too are there different ways in which every category can be approached to make changes.

To begin with I would like to make changes in my diet. I could reduce my intake of meat products and replace it with tofu. I could also take more vegetable based foods or salads, and use fruits as snacks (Chivian  Bernstein, 2008). In the housing category, I could reduce the consumption of electricity by using energy saving bulbs for lighting (EPA, 2010). I could also reduce use of major appliances by running the washers and dryers are full load and hand washing fewer dishes (EPA, 2010). In the transport category since I already have a car I could change the way I use it.

I could take the bus whenever I do not have luggage to carry around. I could also plan my errands in such a way that I use the car minimally. I can also car pool with other students or family members so that those who do not have a car already do not buy one until it is absolutely necessary. In goods, I could opt for cotton instead of wool for my clothes using heavy cotton coats instead of wool coats or wool sweaters. I could also quit smoking. In services I could reduce my telephone use (EPA, 2010). In waste I could buy products that use recycled paper and recycle more. I could also use libraries facilities to read newspapers, magazines and books instead of buying my own.

While these options are possible adhering to them might not be so easy. If I were to make these changes my lifestyle would be fundamentally changed in some ways. For example I would have to be more conscious of my choices and to actively engage myself in implementing the changes. In shopping for clothes, for example, I would be required to look at the fabric contents to find out if it is cotton or wool. I would also have to give up the comforts of my car and endure walking and the elements of weather.

Reducing my footprint would also fundamentally change the way I look at the world. Every action that I take which consumes energy would need to be scrutinized. I would be less involved with consuming and exploiting that in conserving and preserving. Given all what is involved, it is possible to reduce my footprint. However everything has to be done in moderation. Drastic changes in my diet for example might lead to the same issue that the biospherians experienced in the first year of enclosure of weigh loss. The greatest challenge would be making it worthwhile so that I do not give up midway my plans. Making a change that saves money for example is a motivator in itself.

As global citizens I feel that Americas footprints should be reduced to be fair to other global citizens. The bigger size of American citizens footprint point to the lifestyle we live which although may be hard to backtrack can be modified to accommodate reductions (Pound et al, 2003). Many of the categories that represent big chunks that go into the footprint do not exist in many other countries in the same amounts as they do in America. For example in developing countries there is less usage of electricity, appliances, cars, heatingcooling systems and gas (Pound et al, 2003).

America as a whole should reduce its footprints. This should be through personal efforts to reduce personal consumptions as well as national policies to curb usage of resources. This can be through taxes, alternative sources of power, better management of waste and better more accessible public transport (Pound et al, 2003). Ignoring the consequences of America footprints on the globe would lead to careless use of resources (Pound et al, 2003). Although it might be tempting to feel indifferent about the question of resources, it is imperative to attend to the question before it is too late (Cohen  Tilman, 1996). Not only would the consequences be felt globally, but they would be also felt keenly at home. Progress made by America could be replicated in other countries for the good of the world.


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