Recent stories

Why Buying Local and Organic Won’t Always Affect Our Environmental Footprint – On Triple Pundit

Whether we like it or not, most of us are strongly bound to the agricultural sector, and we feel the responsibility to make the right choice from an environmental perspective. Nevertheless, it can be confusing standing in the supermarket in front of a sea of products, and consumers immediately go for the “greener choice,” that being local or organic. We’ve gotten better at knowing where our food comes from – but can we claim the same for the environmental impact of our food choices? Read the full article on Triple Pundit.

Calculating Your Water Footprint: Raising Awareness Through Technology

What is your water footprint for the day?  You might be able to give a pretty accurate guess of the amount of direct water you have used today through drinking or showering, but what about the amount of indirect water?  Are you aware of how much water was used to produce that can of soda you had with lunch, raise the cow that became the burger you ate, produce your jeans, sneakers, or t-shirt? You might be surprised to learn that the production of a pair of cotton jeans consumes 1,800 gallons of water.  And that burger…producing half a pound of beef requires approximately 850 gallons of water. Everything we consume and produce contains both direct and indirect water, and as consumers in a world facing increased water scarcity, we need to be aware of our water footprint.  But how can academics communicate this information to the public and raise awareness without our eyes glazing over?  Fortunately the spread of the internet and the abundance of smart phones has encouraged the creation of a number of apps and programs to help us calculate our water footprint and influence our spending choices. Below is a list of some of the popular calculators, apps and games. Have you tried one of the programs below or other footprint tools?

Measuring Impact: What’s the beef with beer?

Whenever I go backpacking, I choose a flask of liquor over beer, even though I prefer beer. Why? Because the flask is lighter than a few bottles of beer. But in the ecological backpack, beer is among the lighter items you can bring! An ecological backpack, or rucksack if you prefer,  measures a product’s impact by expressing its natural resource consumption in ratio of how many kilograms of natural resources are used to make one kilogram of the product.

The Bio-Economy Guide


At the beginning, I would like to ask you a simple question: What is economics? What would you answer? Would you tell me that economics is a science that describes production, consumption and distribution? Correct! Yet, there is another answer that I would like to hear: economics is a science that describes the life in the world of unlimited needs and limited (natural) resources.

As we walk away

As the final plenary session of the conference ends, some key issues emerged for us to contemplate on and incorporate in our everyday lives. Power of the individual : Across academics and politicians, the general consensus is the need for not only systemic change but also transformative change. As Marilyn Mehlman says, there is a great need to face our fear of being one small entity in the society and doubt our potential as change agents. But we should think of ourselves as having the dexterity of a spoonful of yogurt has in transforming a bucket of milk to yogurt. It is time for us to bridge our differences and work as one planet.

Grow Green!

There is a misunderstanding. We thought growth was about having and producing more, about improving quality of life. What happened? The concept of growth didn’t really take into account the whole life cycle of products and services we created and consumed. Without the internalization of current negative externalities we won’t be able to understand what growth really is, therefore not being able to grow at all.

A Carbon Confession

Here’s the dirty secret behind my attendance at the World Resources Forum 2011: I caused 1.12 metric tons of CO2 emissions to come here from the US. (Roundtrip, all calculations from Four hundred people have flown in from around the world for WRF2011; can we do enough good to outweigh our collective and individual carbon harms? From a personal carbon standpoint, flying is by far the worst thing I do to the atmosphere, followed by a distant 2nd of occasional driving.  My estimated 2011 flying carbon footprint alone adds up to more than 6 metric tons.   For comparison’s sake, the average U.K. citizen emits fewer than 10 metric tons of CO2 per year, and on average, each person in the world produces around 4 tons/year. How guilty am I of climate harm right now?