The Environment of 2016 in a Nutshell

2016 has been a surprising year. Then, if one would like to look back and attach a meaning to it, what could he do? What economists most oftenly prefer to do, is to look at indexes.
Then, since we are concerned about the environment, Steamgreen has selected an interesting one in order to conclude this year and launch a bird’s eye view to 2016.

The EPI index

The Environment Performance Index is in practice a index of indexes, born in 2002 out of a joint study carried out by eminent Universities, such as Yale and Columbia, and partnered by the European Commission and the World Bank. The focus is on the relative  performance of countries in two main areas: protection of human health and of ecosystems. But the outcome is a number, therefore the indicators gathered are outweighed through statistical transformations, which basically say the greater the number, the better the situation down there. Or even better: the greater the number, the better the situation, the closest is the country’s environmental policy  to the generally agreed standards, as defined by national targets,  recommendations issued by organisation such as UNEP or scientific studies. In particular it has been attached to the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The original indicators belong to nine fundamental areas:

  • Health impacts
  • Air quality
  • Water & sanitation
  • Water resources
  • Agriculture
  • Forests
  • Fisheries
  • Biodiversity and Habitat
  • Climate and energy

However, the indicators and the related categories  may change over time due to  quality and availability of data and to relevance, of course.
This is the one used for 2016 computations:

Results

The biannual results are pretty interesting because they are relatively varying over time and most of all because they allow a comparison along peers.
this year’s chart is illustrated below:

 

What is interesting to notice about this EPI findings  is that finally a quantitative measure has been used in order to identify regional environmental strategies. Indeed, very often the media report news of isolated innovations or policy structures, and scientific studies speculate about concentrated areas when it comes to results. In this case, almost all the world is ranked and evaluated, and this gives an inegiglible significance.  Of course, it isn’t fully comprehensive, as only some indicators are selected and a partial view of a country’s effort is offered.  For example: this year Finland is on top, given that the country has rendered  some carbon-neutral society targets legally binding. However since the index doesn’t account for nuclear risk, it also ignores the fact that in Finland  30% of electricity stems from this resource (World Nuclear Power Association).
Notwithstanding the strength of EPI lies also in easiness and simplicity. It teaches to policy makers an important lesson: what is measured can be improved. And the study affirms that there is positive correlation between  tracking results and policy improvements.
Another side, as the chart shows by itself, is that there is undeniably a positive correlation between GDP and EPI. That is to say: when a country has urgencies to care about, it cannot focus on environmental issues. However richness isn’t always the answer to our problem, as economic development is most of the times carrying environmental hazard and health threats, as demonstrated by the index of air particulates.
Among the notable trends that pop out of these data in fact there is that more than half of the global population live in areas where the air quality is very poor.  Air quality is together with fish stocks  and deforestation the main drive of environmental risks according to the disposable indicators.
The good news, instead, since the EPI has been recorded, is that the overall performance is generally improving from time to time, protection of ecosystems has been enlarging and that people’s access to drinking water has been improving.

You can read the full report here.

Curious to see what happens in the future? Let’s see the next report, that will be issued n 2018. In the meantime happy holidays to all of you!

Before The Flood

Before the Flood is the docu-movie directed by Fisher Stevens, released on National Geographic channels (or also online)  between the 30th and 31st of October, this year.
It portrays Leonardo di Caprio, as UN Messenger of Peace, along his journey for truth about Climate Change.
Steamgreen suggests you to see it, for free, here.

It is pretty interesting because it covers the majority of the issues surrounding climate change.
First of all,the scientific data behind it.
Indeed, the release of this movie came on time with the recent UN announcement of the earth stepping into a brand new climate era: we passed into 400 ppm of Carbon Dioxide in the athmosphere.

Credit: Inside Climate News
Credit: Inside Climate News

Okay, this is actually quite meaningless as we have been wandering   very close to the threshold for long, and some additional percentage does not make any pivotal difference. However, scientists say  many generations will have to live on earth before this threshold will be downwards trespassed.
Secondly, it faces the political controversies of this issue, in particular in the US. It shows how part of the American political system is corrupted and, without going into too deep of the Climate Deception, showing how our vote can be determinant (in particular in view of US presidentials).
Thirdly, it deals with  how much real places on earth, such as Kirimbati Islands, the Arctic, or even LA, are now being affected by climate change.
Lastly, (but not least), it opens up for solutions.

Steamgreen doesn’t want to spoiler the whole movie; however what is interesting when it comes to consumption patterns is  how they can have a direct impact towards an effective change, Of course we already knew about that, but what most of us do not consider is that in developing countries dirty fossil fuels are the only possibility to have an access to a source of energy at all; in particular when it comes to fast growing population, such as China, or better, India.
This has to remind to all of us that sustainable development is a fragile equilibrium.
After all, its definition is:
“Sustainable development is a process for meeting human development goals while sustaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depends”

Steamgreen goes Internazionale! Book advice included.

Steamgreen has gone far this week for its readers: it has flown to China, stopping in Spain before landing in Brasil and then popping up in US.
And all of this while remaining in Ferrara.

internazionale

In fact Ferrara, the town whose historical centre was claimed to be UNESCO heritage site, hosted during the weekend the annual  3-days-long festival about international journalism.
Internazionale” is the Italian weekly magazine which organises this event;  its name is due to the fact that it focuses on  international perspectives and news, and its wit lays in the fact that a large number of the pieces are translated into the Italian language from international newspapers.
Therefore, this yearly happening is really not to miss because very special guests coming from all over the world gather in this medium sized town in Emilia.
This year the event featured famous journalists such as Oliver Burkeman (the Guardian), Dan Savage, David Randall (the Independent) but also economists and experts on various disciplines, such as Paul Mason, Julia Cagé and Olivier Roy (expert on IS).

Among the interesting activities to which Steamgreen assisted, one was definitely worth to be signalled.
The Italian journalist and writer Stefano Liberti presented on the last day his latest book called “ I Signori del Cibo. Viaggio nell’industria alimentare che sta distruggendo il pianeta” (In English: “The Lords of food. A journey into the planet- consuming food industry”), published by mimimum fax (pp. 328, Eur 19).

book
The investigative report is divided into 4 chapters, which symbolize the major criticalities defining the grocery world: soy, pork, tuna and tomato paste.
During the public speech the author told to the audience some  worth knowing meetings he had during his various trips.
For example. in the US he visited North Carolina’s pig farms but from a very peculiar perspective: from a airplane. From up there he had the chance to see how the pigs are stuffed into barns, with no open air chance. Next to those warehouses  he noticed this, so called, lakes. Those are far from being crystal blue, natural places: they are en-plein-air piggy toilets, since the animals have no possibility of moving and of  depositing their own scraps in some defined area.
But there is another horrifying detail: those lakes are pink. Why pink? Because the animals, actually literally living side by side 24/7, and sharing everything, need to be filled up with massive quantities of antibiotics, which serve as a means of prevention towards possible infections that could threat the financial rent of their meat.
The issue is, except for the indiscernible cruelty, that we, pig-eating humans, will absorb those antibiotics, without actually be warned or being aware of it.
Related to the pig-story, he also investigated the Chinese market, which is enormous in quantity as Chinese are more than 1.3 billion.   He found out that the market share is concentrated in very few (in the order of 3-4mega companies),  which are state-driven and manipulate “pig-reserves” in order to be able control the price of such meat.

This book, however seems to indicate a possible happy ending.
Mr. Liberti, while telling his adventures in discovering the characteristics of tuna market, said that inspiration for our daily actions could be taken from the American experience in this sense: when the consumers found out about the scandal about how tuna fishes were caught, and what possibly was included in a tuna can (aka dolphins, turtles), the consumers became sensitive towards the matter and modified their behaviour consistently, forcing the market to change practices.

The moral is: there is always a way, let’s be informed and lets Steamgreen!

Demain… a movie for the Earth!

On the 6th of this month be free, a new documentary is coming out, and is about the environment. Demain (Tomorrow, in english) is a non fiction movie directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent.

We don’t want to give too much spoilers, but you should know that the movie takes place in 10 different countries around the world: India, France, Denmark are just some to name.

The movie, as the two french directors write in the official website, aims at “Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through.”

Indeed, during the movie you will see people who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education.

Here is the official trailer:

 

So next week go and buy your cinema ticket, and let Steamgreen know your impressions about it!

Let’s Steamgreen!

 

EuroEnviro 2017: Updates!

Do you remember our first post this year? You can read it here.
It was about the coolest sustainability-and-environment related  students’ symposium happening around Europe for the last 22 years.
And the news was: Rimini Campus, the campus hosting RESD, has the opportunity to host the upcoming edition!

What’s new?
The organising team is working on the project, and it is looking for new staff members who are willing to take part in this unbelievable and extremely challenging adventure, that is bringing a self organized week-long event for the first time in Italy. The rewards?

– gaining experience as a event-organiser
–  learning to work in a international team
– getting to know new people from all over Europe- and actually not only
– actively engage in spreading the world of the young love towards the environment, the planet and living sustainably
-sharing your knowledge and learn from others’
– have fun while working hard

These are just few examples of what taking part in EuroEnviro means.

 How?

You can get know all the details of the project in our Aperitivo happening Thursday, 29th September at 7:00 p.m. at Putti’s bar (piazzetta Teatini,1 RIMINI). 
You will hear from the past editions’ experiences as participants, and your opportunity to take part in as  either organizer, volunteer or participant.

You can see the event on facebook, here.
Please, bring your ID or Driving License, as we will gather signatures in order to get our association acknoweldged as UNIBO Students’ Association, in order to make it happen.

More info about past editions can be found here.

Enjoy your reading and see you soon!

European Mobility Week

On the 16th of September was lunched the European Mobility Week!

This year EU will focus on ‘Smart and sustainable mobility’, focusing on the link between transport and economics. The main idea is that having a smarter mobility across our society,  from the public to the private sector, benefits the entire economy.

In 2016 there are 50 countries partecipating, for a total of 2286 cities. You can check here if your city is in the list: www.mobilityweek.eu/2016-participants

Every year the Mobility Week focuses on a particular topic related to sustainable mobility. Local authorities organise activities for their citizens based on the theme. Moreover, they launch and promote permanent measures that support the specific year’s goal.

Why is sustainable mobility important?
From a governamental point of view, better infrastucture, avoided traffic jams, better air quality, fewer cars on our streets, more efficient public transport – the list can continue – mean less managing costs, public money saved and ultimately an economic boost. Having a smarter mobility in your city is a benefit in every aspects, both for the private and the public sector. Indeed, just think that houses’ value in the area with good cycling facilities and efficient public transport tends to be higher; furthermore, children who walk or cycle to school have higer school performances.

So jump on your bikes steamgreeners and make your city smarter and more sustianable.

If need more info, including how to make your city partecipating and possibly winning the EMW award for the city that best implement and encourage smart and sustainable mobility, look at the main website: www.mobilityweek.eu

Synergic Agriculture : Having more doing less

In 1975 in a small village on the Japanese hills a man started the so-called One-Straw Revolution. Masanobu Fukuoka was a farmer and a philosopher, and understood that nature does not need any human input to provide fruits and vegetables to the mankind. Fukuoka discovered the true natural way of farming, letting to the nature all the job. Indeed, his tecnique is referred to as the do-nothing farming, indicating the lack of manufactured inputs, such as chimica, or other instruments.

masanobu

The Fukuoka method starts from the local environment, which should attentlively observed and studied to understand what does the land demand and what it can offer. The five pillars of the natural farming can be summerized as follow:

  1. No tillage
  2. No fertiliser
  3. No pesticides or herbicides
  4. No weeding
  5. No pruning

 

In his experiment Fukuoka obtained per hectare the same harvest as other traditional farms in Japan. Moreover, his natural system prevents water pollution, biodiversity loss and soil erosion.

However, Fukuoka tecnique is hard to be adapted. In Europe, thanks to the Spanish agronomist, Emilia Hazelip (1938-2003), who studied in depth, and applied, the principles of Permaculture, it was possible to replicate the results Fukoka obatained in Japan.

If it still can be seen as an utopia to use the natural farming principles on a vast scale, on smaller size of land it is proven that is a mechanisms that can provide food while leaving the soil untouched.

If you look for some other information just google it, and if you are in Rimini you can visit a real experience of a synergic garden at the urban garden of Casa Madiba Network.

Masdar City: A Carbon-free oasis

 

Few kilometres from Abu-Dhabi airport in the middle of the desert a new city rises: is Masdar, literally the rising city. Thanks to a conspicuous US$ 22 billion investment, it is the first world’s 100% sustainable city.

Started in the 2006, the city spreads for 6 square kilometres wide and it can host up to 50.000 people, 1500 business, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

The Masdar City is a plan of energy colossus Masdar that wants to make the city the first prototype of a completely sustainable smart city. Indeed, the city will consume roughly 75% energy less than a “normal” city and it will be totally supplied by solar energy for the 80%, thanks to a 40MW solar plant, and by eolic and composting.

Moreover, only electric cars will be allowed in streets. For the mass transit a Personal Rapid Transit system consisting in electric taxi moving on magnet railways, has been ideated. The biggest news is that the transportation system will is considerably cheaper than a subway: 15 million against 80 millions.

 

 

Masdar City is a real utopia of the sustainable concept for new and old cities. It will be a living center to test and improve the urban sustainability worldwide!

The Sustainable Community! Let’s go Apes

We all well know how much time you like spending on Facebook! Posting pictures of your amazing vacation, or sharing videos and posts! It has been estimated that the global average of time spent on your favourite social network is more than 20 minutes per day!

Today the green column wants to give you an alternative! Of course a GREEN ONE!

Lately I found out this amazing social network: greenApes. You can download the app from your app store or from the website https://www.greenapes.com/en

Basically it works as a normal social network, and even the outline is very similar to its most famous sibling. So it is easy to get friendly with it!

What makes it different is its scope! On greenApes you share your green actions and ideas, such as a vegetarian meal you have cooked or a bike ride to your workplace; you can explore the sustainable venues around you thanks to its map: that helps me to find interesting spots in my city I didn’t know! You can connect with other “apes in the jungle” building your network of environment friendly buddies!

Greenapes

The funny things is that each time you do something sustainable you get rewarded collecting BankNuts that helps you to grow from a small tiny monkey to a earth protector gorilla! Moreover, the special “coins” you earn can be used to have discount in sustainable shops and access to beautiful rewards!

Look to this explanatory video!

The project is expanding very fast and we can all help out sharing this amazing idea with our friends! Just connect and start your journey!

Remember you are not alone in the jungle! 

Tomorrow is the World Population Day

Tomorrow is the World Population Day.

In fact in the far 1989 the UN decided to dedicate the 11th of July to the general theme of population issues.
It is of course part of a campaign of awareness on hot debated social issues, among the latest: exploding population and global peace.
This year it has been decided to put the focus on teenage girls.

On this World Population Day, I urge all Governments, businesses and civil society to support and invest in teenage girls. Everyone deserves the benefits of economic growth and social progress. Let us work together to ensure a life of security, dignity and opportunity for all.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

 

Why teenage girls? And why are we talking about such an event on the GREEN column?

Women, in particular in teenage, are facing daily big challenges. Investing in them is to empower them with information in order to let them know their rights and possibilities. In the world too many teenage girls are exploited, forced to marriage and motherhood. In 2000, 63 million primary age girls did not enrol in school. This is a worrying phenomenon not only for their personal faith: it has consequences on multiple aspects of the bigger society.
More in general, women account for more than half of the world population and they most oftenly do take care for the wellbeing of their relatives. In terms of the environment, women around the world play distinct roles: in managing plants and animals in forests, drylands, wetlands and agriculture; in collecting water, fuel and fodder for domestic use and income generation; and in overseeing land and water resources. Notwithstanding, in 2016 the world still has not achieved full gender equality, and , according to Aguilar (2002) a sustainable development is not possible with this condition. According to UN development goal only 7 countries have reached an acceptable level of gender equality, among them Costa Rica, Argentina and South Africa. Moreover women and children constitute the major share of the poor.

So, lets begin next week celebrating this event  and striving to make this world a more equal, sustainable and welcoming place for everybody!