Ecological Problems in "the Human Footprint" Documentary | Free Essay Example

Ecological Problems in “the Human Footprint” Documentary

Words: 996
Topic: Entertainment & Media
Updated:

The Main Problem

The main problem the filmmaker addresses is the impact of human activities on their environment. The environment includes the external physical environment and the internal environment: the human body. The various parts of the movie show how different actions that human beings do on daily basis impact the environment.

Some of the activities promote sustainability while others create environmental problems. The filmmaker highlights problems such as waste disposal, overeating, consumption of unhealthy foods, the use of chemicals on our bodies and wastage of natural resources.

The Central Claim the Film Makes

The filmmaker uses the movie to argue that human beings take all the actions they do for granted. She implies that they do not know that the small amounts of harm they cause to their bodies and the environment accumulate to cause drastic effects on both the physical environment and their bodies.

All the episodes of the movie present crises involving human beings and their environment. She calculates the quantity of different resources that human beings spend in a single day and multiplies what she gets by the lifetime of human beings. Her calculations give approximate quantities that human beings spend throughout their lives.

Relevant Evidence Used to Support the Central Claim

The filmmaker calculates the cumulative amount of every small quantity of resources that human beings use in their daily activities. For example, she argues that each person uses a total of 43, 371 soda cans in a lifetime. According to her, people do not realize that throwing away soda cans can be harmful to the environment. She implies that people do not think about such habits because they throw one can after some time.

She also calculates the amount of water each American uses throughout his or her life. Her calculations reveal that every American takes a total of 28, 433 showers in a lifetime. According to her, all those showers use more than 700, 000 gallons of water. This example also illustrates the profoundness of the effects of accumulating human activities. It is easier for people to see the seriousness of their actions when they see the cumulative effects of those actions compared to when they consider each activity in isolation. The filmmaker takes advantage of this knowledge to pass her message to her audience.

She also talks about beauty in enhancing her argument. According to her, Americans spend more money on beauty than on education, yet they do not realize it. Her calculations reveal that every American uses 156 toothbrushes, 389 tubes of toothpaste, 656 bars of soap, 272 sticks of deodorant, 35 tubes of hairstyling jaws and 198 bottles of shampoo in a lifetime. She provides all these details with the purpose of letting her audience know that all the beauty chemicals they use accumulate somewhere and cause negative effects on the environment.

She also argues that each American sends 20 gallons of waste products to the sewage. This amount is equal to 567, 575 gallons in a lifetime. She further argues that though treatment centers work on the human wastes, the solid wastes must be scooped out. She insists that this waste must also have a place to lie. She satirically asserts that no one cares about where this waste goes. She shows a picture of the solid wastes accumulated at one point, causing a serious problem on the ground on which they stand.

She also defends her claim by arguing that Americans throw away a total of 60 million plastic bottles every day. When she converts the days into seconds, she concludes that they throw away 694 plastic bottles in one second. She further argues that the soda and beer aluminum and steel cans thrown away are sum up to one hundred million in a day. The cans occupy a very large space, tampering with the decomposition process. These statistics and many other facts demonstrate the truth in her argument that the cumulative effects of all human activities are catastrophic.

The figure below shows my ecological footprint derived from my last week’s activities. Each activity and item has a figure that represents its effect on the environment.

Item Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday score
Home
Organic food (each item +1 point)
Locally
produced food (+1 point)
House
Huge (-5 points)
Medium-sized (-3 points)
Small-sized (-1 points)
+ 1

+ 1

0

-3

0

+ 1

+ 1

0

-3

0

0

+ 1

0

-3

0

+ 1

+ 1

0

-3

0

+ 1

+ 1

0

-3

0

+ 1

+ 1

0

-3

0

0

+ 1

0

-3

0

+ 5

+ 7

0

-21

0

Travel
Large car (each day -3 points)
Medium-sized car (each day -2 points)
Motorbike (each day -1 point)
By public transit
Less than 20kms (-1point)
20-40 kms (-2 points)
40kms+ (-3 points)
By bicycle or walking (+ 1 point each day)
0

-2

0

-1

0

0

0

-2

0

0

0

0

0

0

-1

0

0

0

0

0

-1

0

0

0

0

0

-1

-1

0

0

0

0

0

-1

0

0

0

0

0

-1

0

0

0

-4

-3

-4

0

0

Electricity
Use of appliances and electronics (-2 points each day)
Leave appliance or electronic plugged in when you leave the room (-1 point for each item)
Engage in energy efficiency improvements/practices (+1 points each item)
-2

-1

0

-2

0

+1

-2

0

+1

-2

0

+1

-2

0

+1

-2

0

+1

-2

0

0

-14

-1

+5

Stuff
Purchase of each small item (-5 point each item)
Purchase of each medium-sized item (-1 point each item)
Purchase of large item (-2 points each item)
0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total -30

I left a great footprint on earth within this last week. I spent many resources both constructively and unconstructively. The overall result implies that I need to reduce the amount of resources I use every day. The negative figure shows that I did not use the resources sustainably. I know that I will need to pay more attention to some areas than others when addressing the wastage of resources indicated in by the results of my analysis.

Areas that make up the majority of the wastage include living in a medium-sized house, using a medium-sized car, using electrical appliances and forgetting to switch off the plugs when leaving the house. I can reduce the deficit by moving to a smaller house, using my bicycle instead of cars, minimizing the usage of electrical appliances and remembering to switch off all the plugs before leaving the house.