Week 6 Blog

12 Mar

Before this week’s lectures, I thought sustainable development was about delivering a sustainable replacement for oil and other fossil fuels so that we could reduce the rate of global warming and deter the associated dangers. That is until I learned about the amount of energy used to produce food, damage done to the land by the usage of GM technology.  The world’s population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050. To cater for this rise, either more land has to be used for agriculture or we have to get a lot more efficient in how we do things. Also vast amounts of land will have to be used for biofuel plantations and I believe a lot more trees must be planted to act as a filter for the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Can this increase in land usage, along with a large increase in population actually be feasible? Theoretically, we could but a lot of energy and money will have to be invested and we still may not see the expected outputs.

I was surprised to see how much energy is required to produce food. From fuel usage to buildings and irrigation so much energy is used. Although this energy usage is necessary, I believe there’s always room for improvement and we could surely reduce this energy usage. I’ve learned that the developed world ecological footprint is much higher that it’s bio capacity; this is especially so in North America. We have to start living more sustainable and to begin to produce more locally.

This week we also visited the eco village in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. I was interested in the design and how eco-friendly each house was. I intend to take the management stream next year so it was especially relevant. The designs of the houses are certainly the houses of the future. One resident told us that it costs him 18 euro a month to heat his house. Another resident’s house was so well insulated that it didn’t have a heating system; it retains even one’s own body heat which I thought was very impressive. But, we found out to build a eco-house in Cloughjordan is expensive. For projects like this to become more wide scale the cost has to be significantly reduced. One thing I noticed was that all the houses had vastly different designs. In my opinion, this type of project could be a lot more viable if only one house design was used; maybe like a typical modern estate, except with the design features of the houses in the eco-village. I was also impressed by their district heating system and how efficient it is. I believe this type of system should be used in every village, town and city in Ireland.

Since the EU have a strong environmentally based ethos and have a mention of environmental impact in every law they now make, I believe that it would be appropriate for them to introduce  standards to be set in all newly built houses. A certain amount of public spending should be allocated to make these houses less expensive.  However, I don’t believe that this kind of law will be enforced for quite a while. And that is for 2 main reasons; that we only have passed peak oil and we have half of the oil left on this planet and simply the cost of such a project in these difficult economic times.

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