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© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. This lecture will help you understand: The meaning of the term environment The field and interdisciplinary nature of environmental science The importance of natural resources and ecosystem services Some pressures on the global environment Concepts of sustainability and sustainable development
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Our island: Earth Earth may seem enormous -But it and its systems are finite and limited -We can change the Earth and damage its systems Environment: all the living and non-living things around us -Animals, plants, forests, farms, etc. –Continents, oceans, clouds, ice caps –Structures, urban centers, living spaces –Social relationships and institutions
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Humans are part of nature Humans depend on a healthy, functioning planet The fundamental insight of environmental science: -We are part of the natural world, but we can also change it -Our interactions with its other parts matter a great deal We depend completely on the environment for survival -Increased health, longer lives, wealth, mobility, leisure -But natural systems have been degraded by pollution, soil erosion, species extinction, etc. -Environmental changes threaten long-term health and survival
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmental science Environmental science is the study of: -How the natural world works -How the environment affects humans and vice versa We need to understand our interactions with the environment -To creatively solve environmental problems Global conditions are rapidly changing -We are also rapidly gaining knowledge -The opportunity to solve problems is still available
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We rely on natural resources Natural resources = substances and energy sources needed for survival Renewable natural resources: can be replenished -Perpetually renewed: sunlight, wind, wave energy -Renew themselves over short periods: timber, water, soil -These can be destroyed Nonrenewable natural resources: unavailable after depletion -Oil, coal, minerals
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We rely on ecosystem services Natural resources are goods produced by nature -Earths natural resources provide services to us Ecosystem services: arise from the normal functioning of natural services -Purify air and water, cycle nutrients, regulate climate -Pollinate plants, receive and recycle wastes We degrade ecosystem services -By depleting resources, destroying habitat, generating pollution -Increased human affluence has intensified degradation
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Human population growth amplifies impacts There are over 6.9 billion humans Agricultural revolution -Crops, livestock -Stable food supplies Industrial revolution -Urbanized society powered by fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) -Sanitation and medicines -Pesticides and fertilizers
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Resource consumption exerts pressures Exploitation and consumption of resources is also a problem Garret Hardins tragedy of the commons: unregulated exploitation of public resources leads to depletion and damage –Soil, air, water Resource users are motivated by self interest –They increase use until the resource is gone Solutions to the tragedy of the commons? –Private ownership? –Voluntary organization to enforce responsible use? –Governmental regulations?
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Our ecological footprint Affluence increases consumption Ecological footprint: the environmental impact of a person or population -The area of biologically productive land + water -To supply raw resources and dispose/recycle waste People in rich nations have much larger ecological footprints If everyone consumed the amount of resources the U.S. does, we would need 4.5 Earths!
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Overshoot We are using renewable resources 30% faster than they are being replenished Overshoot: humans have surpassed the Earths capacity to support us
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmental science How will resource consumption and population growth impact todays global society? Civilizations have fallen after degrading the environment -Easter Island, Greek and Roman empires -Once lush regions (i.e. Iraq) are now barren deserts Civilizations succeed or fail according to how they interact with the environment -Along with how they respond to problems Environmental science can help build a better world
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The nature of environmental science Environment impacts Humans Its applied goal: solving environmental problems Solutions are applications of science An interdisciplinary field -Natural sciences: examines the natural world -Environmental science programs -Social sciences: examines values and human behavior -Environmental studies programs
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. What is an environmental problem? Whether an environmental condition is seen as a problem -Depends on the individual and situation Ex.: the pesticide DDT -In malaria-infested Africa: welcome because it kills malaria-carrying mosquitoes -In America: not welcome, due to health risks People also differ in their awareness of problems, depending on who they are, where they live, what they do
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmental science is not environmentalism Environmental science –Pursues knowledge about the environment and our interactions with it –Scientists try to remain objective and free from bias Environmentalism –A social movement –Tries to protect the natural world from human-caused changes
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainability and the future of our world Sustainability: we must live within our planets means -So the Earth and its resources can sustain us and all life for the future Sustainability involves conserving resources -Developing long-term solutions -Keeping fully functioning ecosystems Natural capital: Earths total wealth of resources -We are withdrawing it faster that its being replenished -We must live off Earths natural interest (replenishable resources), not its natural capital
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Population & consumption Population growth amplifies all human impacts -The growth rate has slowed, but we still add more than 200,000 people to the planet each day Resource consumption has risen faster than population -Life has become more pleasant -Rising consumption also amplifies our demands on the environment The 20 wealthiest nations have 55 times the income of the 20 poorest nations -Three times the gap that existed 40 years ago
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Ecological footprints are not all equal Not everyone benefits equally from rising affluence The ecological footprints of countries vary greatly -The U.S. footprint is much greater than the worlds average In the U.S. the richest 1% -Have 25% of all income
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We face challenges in agriculture Technology expanded food production –Leading to increased population and consumption Its one of humanitys greatest achievements, but it comes at an enormous environmental cost –Nearly half of the land surface is used for agriculture –Chemical fertilizers and pesticides poison and change natural systems –Erosion, climate change and poor management destroy millions of acres each year
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Humans have changed the Earths landscape Agriculture, urban sprawl, and other land uses have substantially affected most of the landscape of all nations
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We face challenges in pollution Waste products and artificial chemicals –Are used in farms, industries, and households –Contaminate land, water and air –Kill millions of people Humans are affecting the Earths climate –Melting glaciers –Rising sea levels –Impacted wildlife, forests, health and crops –Changed rainfall and increased storms Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen by 39%, to the highest level in 800,000 years
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We face challenges in biodiversity Biodiversity: the cumulative number and diversity of living things Human actions have driven many species extinct –Biodiversity is declining dramatically –We are setting in motion a mass extinction event Biodiversity loss may be our biggest problem; once a species is extinct, it is gone forever
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The most comprehensive scientific assessment of the condition of the worlds ecological systems In 2005, 2000 of the worlds leading scientists from 100 nations reported : –Humans have drastically altered ecosystems –These changes have contributed to human well- being and economic development, but at a cost –Environmental degradation could get much worse –Degradation can be reversed, but it requires work
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Our energy choices will affect our future The lives we live today are due to fossil fuels –Machines –Chemicals –Transportation –Products Fossil fuels are a one-time bonanza –Supplies will certainly decline We have used up ½ of the worlds oil supplies; how will we handle this imminent fossil fuel shortage?
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainable solutions abound Renewable energy and efficiency Organic agriculture Legislation and technology to reduce pollution Protect species and their habitat Recycling, decreasing waste Decrease greenhouse gas emissions We must develop solutions that protect both our quality of life and the environment
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Are things getting better or worse? Many people think environmental conditions are better –Cornucopians: human ingenuity will solve any problem Some think things are much worse –Cassandras: predict doom and disaster How can you decide who is correct? –Are the impacts limited to humans, or are other organisms or systems involved? –Are the proponents thinking in the long or short term? –Are they considering all costs and benefits?
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainable development Involves environmental protection, economic well-being and social equity It does not threaten economic and social needs -Humans cannot exist without an intact, functioning ecosystem Sustainable development: the use of resources to satisfy current needs -Without compromising future availability of resources
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainable development The poor suffer the most from environmental degradation Development: purposeful changes to improve the quality of life Sustainable development: resources satisfy current needs -Without compromising future availability of resources -It is not ever increasing economic gain -It values and prioritizes environmental protection -Human-made capital cannot substitute for natural capital
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Will we develop in a sustainable way? The triple bottom line: sustainable solutions that meet -Environmental protection -Economic goals -Social equity Humans must apply knowledge from the sciences to -Limit environmental impacts -Maintain functioning environmental systems We must make an ethical commitment to current and future generations
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Conclusion Environmental science helps us understand our relationship with the environment -It informs our attempts to solve and prevent problems Identifying a problem is the first step in solving it Solving environmental problems can move us towards health, longevity, peace and prosperity -Environmental science can help us find balanced solutions to environmental challenges
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Review The term environment does NOT include: a)Animals and plants b)Oceans and rivers c)Structures and urban centers d)All of the above are included in this term.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Review Which of the following is correct about the term environmental science? a)It is a social movement to protect the environment. b)It studies how the natural world works. c)It usually does not include human activities. d)It is a declining science.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Review If you add various amounts of fertilizer to plants in a laboratory, the fertilizer would be a ______ variable. a)Correlative b)Natural c)Independent d)Rare
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Review What is the definition of sustainable development? a)Using resources to benefit future generations, even if it means lower availability now. b)Letting future generations figure out their own problems. c)Using resources to satisfy current needs without compromising future availability. d)Letting each country decide what is its best interest.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Weighing the Issues What do you think of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment? a)It is a well-supported report on the Earths ecological systems. b)It abuses science to draw special conclusions. c)It suggests much more study is needed on environmental problems. d)It concludes that humans really arent causing many environmental problems.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Weighing the Issues Do you think it is ethical for the United States to have the largest ecological footprint in the world? a)Yes, because we find the most new technologies and resources. b)Yes, because the footprint of the United States is not really that large. c)Definitely not; people in the United States need to reduce their footprint. d)It does not matter; its not that important.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data According to this graph, what was responsible for population growth over the last 500 years? a)Fossil fuels b)Increased food c)The Black plague d)Education
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data What happens if test results can not reject a hypothesis? a)The scientist formulates a new hypothesis. b)It shows the test failed. c)The hypothesis was supported d)The predictions may not have been correct.
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