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The Environmental Challenges We Face

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Presentation on theme: "The Environmental Challenges We Face"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Environmental Challenges We Face
Chapter 1

2 A World in Crisis Earth provides raw materials and energy for Life
Earth is approx 4.5 Billion years old Modern humans appeared in Africa 195,000 yrs ago Human populations have grown and expanded in range Technology has allowed humans to live better (at least in developed nations) Humans are the most significant agent of environmental change Overpopulation Overconsumption of natural resources: topsoil, water, air Transforming and destroying natural environments Eradicating unique species Human-induced climate change

3 A World in Crisis

4 Human Impacts on the Environment
Learning Objectives: Distinguish among highly developed countries, moderately developed countries, and less developed countries. Relate human population size to natural resources and resource consumption. Distinguish between people overpopulation and consumption overpopulation. Describe the three factors that are most important in determining human impact on the environment.

5 Human Impacts on the Environment
Overpopulation Earth’s central environmental problem Links all other environmental problems together World’s population continues to grow and has grown very fast 1960: 3 billion people 1975: 4 billion 1987: 5 billion 2009: 6.8 billion People consume food and water, use energy and raw materials and produce waste Several more billion people will be added in the 21st century, even if we are proactive about population growth

6 Linear vs. Exponential Linear growth - a quantity increases by a constant amount per unit of time: 2, 4, 6, 8 or 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 & so on. Exponential growth - a quantity increases by a fixed percentage of the whole in a given time: 1, 2, 4, 16

7 Environmental InSight

8 Environmental InSight

9 Human Impacts on the Environment
Poverty A condition in which people are unable to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, education, or health. One in four people lives in extreme poverty (less than $2/day): 3.3 billion people Poverty is associated with short life expectancy, illiteracy, inadequate access to health services, safe water, balanced nutrition

10 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population Growth Projected 7.7–10.6 billion people depending on fertility rate Current fertility rate is 2.6 children/woman Family planning efforts World’s population may stabilize by end of 21st century Can Earth support so many people? We don’t know Quality of life depends on being able to produce enough food in a sustainable manner Without destroying the biological communities that support life on our planet

11 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population Size Number of people Population Consumption Use of materials and energy Economic Growth Expansion of the output of a nation’s goods and services Intimately related

12 Human Impacts on the Environment
Gap between Rich and Poor Highly Developed Countries (Rich, HDCs) Complex industrialized bases, low rates of population growth, and high per person incomes 18 % of the world’s population US, Canada, Japan, most of Europe

13 Human Impacts on the Environment
Gap between Rich and Poor Poor Countries: 82% of world’s population Moderately Developed (MDCs) Medium levels of industrialization, lower per person incomes than highly developed countries, few opportunities for education and health care Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand Less Developed (LDCs) Low levels of industrialization, high population growth, very high infant death rates, very low incomes, mostly agriculture based, cheap unskilled labor Bangladesh, Mali, Ethiopia, Laos

14 Human Impacts on the Environment
Gap between Rich and Poor

15 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population, Resources, and the Environment Developing countries Rapid population growth is overwhelming Natural resource depletion for survival (soils, forests, water) Developed countries Slower population growth Higher rate of consumption beyond what’s necessary for survival (TV, computers, jet skis)

16 Human Impacts on the Environment
Types of Resources Nonrenewable Limited Supply: minerals, fossil fuels Once they are gone, they are gone Renewable/Potentially Renewable Virtually unlimited: solar power, water, soil, forests Replenished over short periods (days to decades) Easy to overexploit nonrenewable Soil, fresh water, clean air

17 3 Types of Resources energy resources: metallic mineral resources
coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, metallic mineral resources iron, copper, aluminum, & nonmetallic mineral resources salt, clay, sand, & phosphates We convert these raw materials into many everyday items we use, & then we discard, reuse, or recycle them.

18 Human Impacts on the Environment
Resources and Population Rapid population growth can cause resources to be overexploited Critical in developing countries Economic growth tied to natural resource exploitation Choice between short term and long term Poverty drives natural resource exploitation Must use resources to survive, which degrades them and shuts down future opportunities for development

19 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population Size and Resource Consumption A country is overpopulated if the demand on its resources results in damage to the environment. Can be overpopulated in 2 ways: People Overpopulation Consumption is high because there are too many people, even if individual consumption is low Consumption Overpopulation Consumption is high because each individual consumes too much, even if total population is low

20 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population Size and Resource Consumption Highly developed countries have less than 20% of the world’s population, but consume: 86% of aluminum 76% of timber 68% of energy 61% of meat 42% of fresh water Also, produce 75% of waste and pollution

21 Human Impacts on the Environment

22 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population Size and Resource Consumption Ecological Footprints The amount of land, fresh water, and ocean required on a continuous basis to supply a person with food, wood, energy, water, housing, clothing, transportation, and waste disposal. Earth has 11.4 billion ha = 28.2 billion acres of productive land and water 11.4/6.8 billion people = 1.8 ha (4.3 acres) Currently, average ecological footprint is 2.7 ha (6.7 acres) US footprint is 9.4 ha (23.3 acres) if everyone in the world had the same, we would need 4 Earths!!!

23 Human Impacts on the Environment

24 Human Impacts on the Environment
Population, Consumption, and Environmental Impact I = P x A x T I: Environmental impact P: Population (number of people) A: Affluence per person (amt of resources) T: Technology used to get resources Interpret results with care! Ultimate goal: make consumption sustainable

25 Human Impacts on the Environment

26 Global Climate Change How do highly developed countries, moderately developed countries, and less developed countries differ regarding population growth and per person incomes? How is human population growth related to natural resource depletion and environmental degradation?

27 Sustainability and Earth’s Capacity to Support Humans
Learning Objectives: Define environmental sustainability. Identify human behaviors that threaten environmental sustainability

28 Sustainability and Earth’s Capacity to Support Humans
Ability to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs Environment will function indefinitely Based on: Effects of our actions on the environment Earth’s resources are finite Understanding impacts of consumption Shared responsibility for environmental sustainability

29 Sustainability and Earth’s Capacity to Support Humans
We are not currently living sustainably: Using nonrenewable resources as if they were renewable (e.g., fossil fuels) Using renewable resources faster than nature can replenish them Polluting the environment beyond capacity Unchecked population growth, without regard to Earth’s finite resources and ability to deal with waste

30 Environmental InSight

31 The Tragedy of the Commons
One cause of environmental degradation is overuse of common-property resources, which are owned by none & available to all users free of charge. Most are potentially renewable. It happens because each user reasons, "If I don't use this resource, someone else will. The little bit I use or pollute is not enough to matter"

32 Global Environmental Issues
Global warming Deforestation

33 Global Environmental Issues
Threatened Oceans Desertification

34 Global Environmental Issues
Polar Ice caps Ozone Depletion

35 Global Environmental Issues
Environmental stress factor

36 Sustainability and Earth’s Capacity to Support Humans
If we continue to live unsustainably, Earth may not recover What changes are we willing to make?

37 Focus on Sustainability

38 Global Climate Change What is environmental sustainability?
Which human behaviors threaten environmental sustainability?

39 Environmental Science
Learning Objectives: Define environmental science. Outline the steps of the scientific method.

40 Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary study of humanity’s relationship with other organisms and the physical environment combines information from many fields: biology, geology, geography, chemistry, economics, agriculture, law, politics, ethics, etc. Ecology is a basic tool Atmospheric Science Environmental Chemistry Geosciences

41 Environmental Science
Goals Establish general principles about how the natural world functions Identifying, understanding, and solving problems that we have created Not just ‘doom and gloom’ list of problems Focus on solving problems

42 Environmental Science
Science as a Process Not just a collection of facts Systematic way of studying the natural world Requires collection of data through Observation and experimentation Data must be analyzed and interpreted Not based on faith, emotion, intuition Requires repeatability and scrutiny No absolute certainty Requires reevaluation Ongoing process

43 Environmental Science
The Scientific Method Process that scientists use to answer questions or solve problems Recognize a question/problem Develop a hypothesis (educated guess) to explain the problem Design and perform an experiment to test the hypothesis Analyze and interpret the data to reach a conclusion Share knowledge with scientific community

44 The Scientific Method

45 Environmental Science
The best hypotheses make predictions Predictions provide a way to test hypotheses If experiment refutes hypothesis, hypothesis is rejected If hypothesis is verified repeatedly, hypothesis is strong Science progresses from uncertainty to less uncertainty Science is self-correcting even though it never ‘proves’ anything

46 Environmental Science
Experiments test hypotheses Variable: factor that influences a process To test a hypothesis, two experiments are carried out: Experimental Group: the chosen variable is altered in a known way Control Group: the chosen variable is not altered We can ask: What is the difference (if any) between the two groups? Any differences would be due to the experimental variable

47 Environmental Science
Scientific Theory An integrated explanation of many hypotheses, each supported by many observations and experiments. Simplifies and clarifies our understanding of the natural world. Solid ground of science Generally accepted as ‘true’, even though there is no absolute truth in science Contrast with general public’s use of theory, as a guess, or hypithesis

48 Environmental Science
Science is constantly evolving As new evidence comes to light, conclusions may change Therefore, scientific conclusions are provisional, which doesn’t mean they are invalid. E.g., smoking and cancer

49 Global Climate Change What is environmental science? What are some of the disciplines involved in environmental science? What are the five steps of the scientific method? Why is each important?

50 How We Handle Environmental Problems
Learning Objectives: List and briefly describe the five stages of solving environmental problems.

51 How We Handle Environmental Problems

52 Global Climate Change What are the five steps used to solve an environmental problem?

53 EnviroDiscovery NIMBY = not in my backyard
NIMTOO = not in my term of office Examples: People don’t want power plants, landfills, incinerators nearby Politicians want to be reelected, so they don’t support those decisions in their districts

54 EnviroDiscovery

55 Case Study The New Orleans Disaster: Hurricane Katrina
Storm damage was increased because of human alteration of the natural landscape: Canals were built for navigationallowed salt water to intrude and kill marsh vegetation Levees were built to stop floodingsediments did not build up to replenish the land Settlements were built on drained wetlands City was subsiding due to lack of bedrock

56 Case Study

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