Presentation on theme: "Part 4 Ecology. Objectives 1. Examine the problems and implications of ecological issues. 2. Evaluate implications of increasing technological and industrial."— Presentation transcript:
Part 4 Ecology
Objectives 1. Examine the problems and implications of ecological issues. 2. Evaluate implications of increasing technological and industrial waste. 3. Develop ethical considerations with environmental issues. 4. Appreciate the importance of ecological involvement and action.
Introduction The term environment means the world around us. This definition includes our natural world –our ecosystem. The study of ecology examines the mutual relationship between organisms and this natural world – the environment – and therefore analyzes the changes and effects on our entire environment due to organisms and their tools.
Historical Background and Major Issues The environmental movement formally began in the United States on Earth Day, April 22, At that time pollution control did not exist. People and cities dumped untreated sewage into the nation’s rivers. Industrial cities were clouded with pungent acid smoke.
EPA The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established in 1970, monitors air quality around the country. Mandatory pollution control standards have led to a drop in emissions. EPA has ranking of world environmental issues: 1. High risk: Global warming, species extinction, ozone layer depletion, loss of biological diversity. 2. Medium Risk: Herbicides and pesticides, surface water pollution, airborne toxic substances. 3. Low risk: Oil spills, radioactive materials, groundwater pollution. 4. Human health risk: Indoor air pollution, outdoor air pollution, exposure of drinking water to chemicals.
Global Environmental Issues According to BBC (2004) the 6 most pressing global environmental problems for the 21 st century include: 1. Biodiversity – extinction of plants and animals. 2. Water – shortages. 3. Energy – short supply of oil. 4. Food – shortages. 5. Pollution – dangerous amounts of air pollution. 6. Climate change – increasing temperatures and CO2 emissions.
Global Warming Scientists have increasing evidence that the earth has begun to warm significantly. Global warming would cause polar ice caps to melt, thus causing a rise in the sea level. This would destroy coastal areas, islands, forests and agriculture in many parts of the world.
Species Extinction The world’s 10 to 80 million species are threatened by deforestation, loss of wetlands, and urban sprawl, as well as shifting climate and vegetation zones. 50,000 species are rendered extinct every year. Tropical rain forests contain half of the world’s species and are being cleared for agriculture.
Habitat Destruction Habitat destruction includes the destruction of wild lands that harbor the biological diversity of the earth. Estimates of the total number of plant and animal species are between 10 and 80 million, of which only about 1.4 million species have been identified. By the year 2050, it is believed that 25 percent of the earth’s species will become extinct if rain forest destruction is continued. According to a 1997 World Resources Institute (WRI) assessment, just one fifth of the earth’s original forest remains. Seventy percent of the 3,000 plant species that have anti cancer properties are found in tropical rain forests.
Habitat Destruction The Amazon river basin, one of the largest rain forests, holds 66% of the earth’s fresh water and produces 20% of the earth’s oxygen (World Resource Institute, 2000). Wetlands are also important environmental ecosystems. Wetlands filter, purify, and hold water, even eliminate pesticides and other toxins by speeding up degradation by microbes. Coastal wetlands are spawning grounds for between 60 and 90% of U.S. commercial fisheries.
Ozone Layer The chemical Ozone (O3) protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and other types of radiation. A significant reduction in the ozone layer would lead to an increase in skin cancers and cataracts. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) chemicals manufactured since the 1930s for refrigeration absorb ozone in the stratosphere. 189 countries agreed to ban the use of CFCs and other ozone depleting substances (EPA, 2006).
An economic view of ecology In the United States each year, $20 billion worth of crops are pollinated by honeybees. Many of the bees are leased because wild bees are essentially gone from certain areas of the country. The service a forest provides in clean water, watershed management and carbon storage are worth much more than its lumber, yet we cut down forests for its timber.
The Consuming Society The average person in the U.S. today is 4 ½ times richer than were his great grand parents at the turn of the century. Over consumption of resources by the world’s fortunate threatens to exhaust or inalterably disfigure forests, soils, water, air, and climate. Poverty is no solution either to environmental or human problems. Dispossessed peasants slash and burn their way into the rain forests of Latin America, and hungry nomads turn their herds out onto fragile African rangeland, reducing it to desert.
The Consuming Society Worldwide since mid century (1950), the intake of copper, energy, meat, steel, and wood has approximately doubled; car ownership and cement consumption have quadrupled; plastic use has quintupled; aluminum consumption has grown sevenfold; and air travel has multiplied 32 times. Long before all the world’s people could achieve the American dream, however, the planet would be laid to waste.
In search of sufficiency Three of the most ecologically important types of consumption are: transportation, diet, and use of raw materials. In transportation, diet, and the use of raw materials, as consumption rises, so does waste. The Golden rule is that each generation should meet its needs without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations to meet their own needs.
How global warming works The sun’s energy heats the earth’s surface. Atmospheric greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and other gases) trap some of the outgoing energy and prevent it from returning back into space. Since the 1800’s atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased nearly 35 percent, and methane has doubled (EPA, 2000). CO2 emissions are from industries and motor vehicles (use of fossil fuels).
Effects and changing climate The rate of warming in the Artic has been 8 times faster during the past 20 years than the previous 100 years (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, 2006). Average winter temperatures in Alaska and Canada have increased by as much as 7 degrees during the past 60 years.
Effects and changing climate Oceans absorb about 1/3 of human generated CO2. Higher global temperatures could fuel extreme weather. Mean global sea level has risen by 7.8 inches during the past century (DiSilvestro, 2005). The natural cycles of interdependent creatures, such as birds or animals, may fall out of sync and thus cause populations to decline.
Solutions Countries with the largest CO2 emissions need to provide leadership in counter emission activities. These include the United States with carbon emissions that are more than double that of China, which is the second world leader in CO2 emissions, followed by Russia in third place. U.S. emits twice as much as western Europe with similar standard of living primarily due to gas guzzling vehicles and inefficient home heating.
Solutions If every U.S. family replaced incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent, the U.S. could decrease CO2 emissions by more than 90 billion pounds annually – equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the roads (Tolme, 2005). Buying high efficiency appliances reduces energy use. Purchasing fuel efficient cars, trucks, and SUVs. Green homes and office buildings (U.S. Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program - LEED) with Energy Star will result in higher resale value.
Other Solutions National energy strategy to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by Raise fuel efficiency of automobiles (account for 1/3 of CO2 emissions). Use more wind power. State rebates for solar and wind – homeowners can feed power back into the utilities.
What you can do (www.ucusa.org/global _warming) 1. The car you drive – look for one with good fuel economy. 2. Choose clean power – electric companies. 3. Look for energy star appliances – refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters). 4. Unplug the freezer – when not in use. 5. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. 6. Think before you drive – combine tasks. 7. Buy good wood – sustainable forests. 8. Plant a tree – Provide shade and store carbon. 9. Get a home energy audit – programmable thermostat.
The Kyoto Protocol Three principles were the foundation for the Kyoto Protocol (1992 in Rio de Janeiro): 1. Scientific uncertainty must not be used to avoid precautionary action. 2. Nations must have common but differentiated responsibilities. 3. Industrial nations with the greatest historical contribution to climate change must take the lead in addressing the problem.
Young at Risk: Dioxins and other hazardous chemicals Dioxins are a chemical byproduct of many common industrial processes. 53% of dioxin release comes from medical waste incineration due to the high level of plastic garbage accumulated by the medical industry. Dioxins are produced during manufacture of PVC material, incineration, pesticide production, paper bleaching with chlorine, and more. They are one of the most lethal chemicals known linked to human illnesses including diabetes, bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, and nervous system and thyroid disorders.
Fisheries: Exploiting the ocean – What will be left? There are too many fishermen and not enough fish (Parfit, 1999). Fifty years of improving fishing technology has created 37,000 freezer trawlers that catch and process a ton or more of fish an hour, manned by about a million people worldwide. Small boat fishermen number about 12 million, but catch only about half the world’s fish. Fishing is a 70 billion dollar industry. Most nations have pushed their territorial boundaries from 12 to 200 nautical miles – now even 200 nautical miles is not enough.
Aquaculture begins to augment wild fishing Aquaculture (farmed fish) harvests have doubled in the last decade to 39.8 million tons and accounts for approximately 30 percent of the global fish harvest. By 2020 aquaculture could account for half of the fish caught. China raises 70% of the world’s aquaculture harvest. Some species such as salmon, are farm harvested more than they are wild harvested. About ¼ of all shrimp consumed are raised in man made ponds.
Endangered Species Act The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted in 1973 (Nixon administration). It is illegal to kill or harm an individual animal or plant listed under the act. In 1973 there were 109 species listed as endangered; today there are about 1500 endangered species. Half of the recorded extinction of mammals over the past 2000 years have occurred in the most recent 50 year period (Curtis and Davison, 2005). Increased grazing, logging, mining, and other environmentally dependent businesses threaten the existence of many animal and plant species.
Air Pollution There are studies showing that on days when there is more pollution in the air, more people die (Natural Resources Defense Council). Air pollution from sulfur dioxide, ozone, fine particles (dust), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide is causing various respiratory illnesses ranging from bronchitis to asthma. Ozone, the dominant chemical in smog, is an invisible toxic gas that is the result of reactions of unburned gasoline with other pollutants. Ozone scars tissue, burns eyes, and promotes coughing, wheezing, and rapid painful breathing. Particulates (dust) are mostly bi products of combustion from coal fired plants, industrial boilers, highway vehicles, etc. Cars today produce 60 – 80 percent less pollution than cars in 1960, but motor vehicles still release more than 50% of the hazardous air pollutants.
Rain Forests Rain forests of the world need protection because they significantly affect world climate by consuming large quantities of CO2, contributing a large percentage of the world’s oxygen, and slowing global warming. While rain forests now cover only about 5% of the earth’s land surface, they contain at least half of its plant and animal species. The destruction of the rain forests is rampant at nearly 100 acres a minute, approximately the size of the state of Washington annually.
Economic Value The process of searching for new natural medicines is called bio prospecting. Bio prospecting accounts for 10 percent of the research budget in most large U.S. drug companies. Significant discoveries include tree extracts from Indonesia to help fight HIV infection, a Brazilian shrub that is used to treat diabetes, and fungi and bacteria from the Philippines that shows promise in treating a variety of ailments. Aspirin is derived from willow tree bark.
Case Study 1: The Love Canal Love Canal is near the Niagara river in upstate New York. The construction of a canal could connect the two branches of the Niagara river to produce hydro electric power just before Niagara Falls. Around 1946, the city of Niagara Falls was approached by the Hooker Chemical Company, which was looking for a place to dump chemical wastes. Hooker began dumping chemical wastes into the canal until In 1953 the Niagara Falls Board of Education acquired the canal and built an elementary school in the area, and sold the rest to developers.
Case Study 1: The Love Canal As bulldozers began tearing away the topsoil, the rain and snow seeped into the drums and containers holding the chemical wastes and a chemical mixture began to flow out of Love Canal. With heavy rains came increased reports of miscarriages, birth defects, liver abnormalities, and cancer. In 1988, Love Canal residents received a $ 20 million settlement.
Case Study 1: The Love Canal Lois Gibbs was a house wife living in Love Canal in She became a neighborhood organizer and was responsible for bringing this toxic disaster into the public forum and causing the responsible parties to pay for victim relocation. She founded the Citizens Clearinghouse on Hazardous Waste (CCHW).
Case Study 1: The Love Canal Manufacturing wastes are being created at an accelerated pace of 6 % per year, which means total waste production is doubling every 12 years. The Niagara river has the greatest concentration of toxic dumps anywhere in North America (65 huge chemical dumps). The CCHW has changed its name to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, where Ms. Gibbs remains the executive director.
Case Study 2: Europe’s Black Triangle turns Green Black Triangle is a heavily industrialized region where Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic meet. During the Communist era, this 12,000 square mile area was one of the most polluted industrial landscapes on the earth. In 1990, the Czech Republic received financial aid from the European Union for cleanup. The forest is improving due to cleaner air. The hills that were bare except for the stumps of dead trees is slowly turning green.
Conclusion The purpose of this part 4 is to enhance awareness, responsibility, strategies, and involvement for a sustainable, desirable environment. Pollution controls can be viewed from the perspective of dollars saved in annual health care costs.
Home Work Questions 1. What is the study of ecology? 2. Explain the 4 classifications the EPA uses to rank world environmental issues. 3. What is habitat destruction? 4. Why is the Amazon river basin important? 5. Why are wetlands important? 6. What are 3 of the most ecologically important types of consumption? 7.What are dioxins and why are they harmful? 8. What is aquaculture? 9. What does the Endangered Species Act state. 10. Why do rain forests of the world need protection?