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Environmental Problems, Their Causes and Sustainability

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Problems, Their Causes and Sustainability"— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes and Sustainability

2 What is Environmentally Sustainable?
We depend on the environment for things like: Clean air Water Shelter Food Energy Everything else we need to stay alive

3 Environmental Science
Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with living and nonliving parts of their environment. Key component: ecology – study of how organisms interact with each other and their environment

4 Classification Review
Organism Species Populations Ecosystems Biomes Earth

5 Sustainability A necessary component of sustainability is natural capital – the natural resources and natural services that keep us and other forms of life alive and support our economies. Natural Resources – materials and energy in nature that are essential or useful to humans. Can be renewable or nonrenewable – what are some examples of each?

6 Sustainability Natural services – processes in nature such as purification of air and water, which support life and human economies. We can use technology to enhance these services, but there is no substitute for them.

7 Sustainability One form of a natural service is nutrient recycling.
What is this? What are some examples?

8 Sustainability Another component of sustainability is recognizing that humans can degrade natural capital by using up normally renewable resources too fast. Examples? ____________________

9 Sustainability The last component of sustainability is solutions. How can we fix problems? There is often conflict when looking for solutions. Overfishing Over harvest of trees

10 Environmentally Sustainable Societies
This is a society that meets the current and future basic resource needs of its people in a just and equal manner without compromising the ability of future generations to meet basic needs. Think about winning $1 million and earning 10%. Live off this, and you have $100,000 to spend each year indefinitely. (Sustainable lifestyle)

11 Sustainability Spend $200,000/ year and your lifestyle is not sustainable. Same lesson applies to resources on Earth.

12 How are our ecological footprints affecting the Earth?
Ecological footprint – the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to indefinitely supply the people in a particular country or area with renewable resources and to absorb and recycle wastes.

13 Ecological Footprints
In 2008, it was estimated at current consumption levels, we need 1.3 Earths to support our current lifestyles. If population growth and advancement continue at present rates, it will be 2 Earths by 2035. If everyone on Earth consumed the way the US does, only 1.3 billion people could be supported on Earth instead of 6.8 billion we currently have.

14 Ecological Deficits by Country

15 Time Delay Who thinks this is not a big deal?
One problem we face is the time delay. Ecological tipping point – if we reach a threshold level, there could be irreversible shift in the behavior of our natural systems. Think of a rubber band stretching.

16 Nonrenewable Resources
Over billions of years, Earth can replenish resources like oil and metals. Human ingenuity can often find substitutes. Some can be recycled or reused or quantities reduced. (Three R’s)

17 Rich vs. Poor Countries Developed countries – US, Canada, Japan, etc. 18% of population and use 88% of world’s resources. Produce 75% of world’s pollution and waste. Developing countries – India, Brazil, Congo, Haiti, etc. 82% of population.

18 IPAT Model Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology
Higher populations can impact environment more, even though may not use as many resources per capita. Affluence and Technology can be variables. Example: Technology can help or hurt.

19 China’s Future Impact Middle class consumers tend to use more and more natural resources. By 2015, China is expected to have 650 million middle class consumers. This number is twice the US total population.

20 Pollution comes from a number of sources.
Pollution – contamination of the environment by a chemical or other such agent such as noise, heat. Point sources – single, identifiable sources of pollution. Nonpoint sources – dispersed and often difficult to identify. Example would be fertilizer runoff from golf courses.

21 Pollution cleanup vs. prevention
Up to this point, a lot of our focus has been on cleanup after the fact. More and more, we are going to have to look at preventative measures. In the long run, prevention can work better and is cheaper than cleanup measures.

22 Why do we have environmental problems?
Four basic causes: 1) Human Population is growing exponentially. Each day we average 227,000 more people on Earth Extreme poverty has a negative impact on the environment. Affluence can have harmful and beneficial effects In the US we consume 100 times as much as the average person in poor countries consumes. People have different views of environmental problems and solutions.

23 Planetary Management View
Holds that we are separate from and in charge of nature, that nature exists mainly to meet our needs and increasing wants. We can use our ingenuity and technology to manage Earth’s life support systems.

24 Stewardship World View
Holds that we can and should manage the Earth for our benefit, but that we have an ethical responsibility to be caring and responsible managers, or stewards. Encourage environmentally friendly growth and discourage damaging growth.

25 Environmental Wisdom View
Holds we are part of, and dependent on, nature and that nature exists for all species, not just for us. Our success depends on learning how the Earth sustains itself.

26 Solutions Are not black and white, but more shades of gray.
Some models suggest we have 50 years and no more than 100 years to make critical changes if we start now.

27 Questions to consider Why should we care about the environment?
Do we have obligations to stop premature extinctions of other organisms? Should every person be entitled to equal protection from environmental hazards? Who should pay for change?

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