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CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

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1 CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

2 Core Case Study: A Vision of a More Sustainable World in 2060
A transition in human attitudes toward the environment, and a shift in behavior, can lead to a much better future for the planet in 2060 Sustainability: the capacity of the earth’s natural systems and human cultural systems to survive, flourish, and adapt into the very long-term future

3 1-1 What Are Three Principles of Sustainability?
Concept 1-1A Nature has sustained itself for billions of years by using solar energy, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling. Concept 1-1B Our lives and economies depend on energy from the sun and on natural resources and natural services (natural capital) provided by the earth.

4 Environmental Science Is a Study of Connections in Nature (1)
Everything around us “The environment is everything that isn’t me.“ Environmental science: interdisciplinary science connecting information and ideas from Natural sciences: ecology, biology, geology, chemistry… Social sciences: geography, politics, economics Humanities: ethics, philosophy

5 Environmental Science Is a Study of Connections in Nature (2)
How nature works How the environment affects us How we affect the environment How to deal with environmental problems How to live more sustainably

6 Nature’s Survival Strategies Follow Three Principles of Sustainability
Reliance on solar energy The sun provides warmth and fuels photosynthesis Biodiversity Astounding variety and adaptability of natural systems and species Chemical cycling Circulation of chemicals from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment Also called nutrient cycling

7 Three Principles of Sustainability
Figure 1.3: Three principles of sustainability. We derive these three interconnected principles of sustainability from learning how nature has sustained a huge variety of life on the earth for at least 3.5 billion years, despite drastic changes in environmental conditions (Concept 1-1a).

8 Sustainability Has Certain Key Components
Natural capital: supported by solar capital Natural resources: useful materials and energy in nature Natural services: important nature processes such as renewal of air, water, and soil Humans degrade natural capital Scientific solutions needed for environmental sustainability

9 Nutrient Cycling Figure 1.5: Nutrient cycling: This important natural service recycles chemicals needed by organisms from the environment (mostly from soil and water) through those organisms and back to the environment. Fig. 1-5, p. 10

10 Natural Capital Degradation
Figure 1.6: Natural capital degradation. This was once a large area of diverse tropical rain forest in Brazil, but it has now been cleared to grow soybeans. According to ecologist Harold Mooney of Stanford University, conservative estimates suggest that between 1992 and 2008, an area of tropical rain forest larger than the U.S. state of California was destroyed in order to graze cattle and plant crops for food and biofuels. Fig. 1-6, p. 10

11 Some Sources Are Renewable and Some Are Not (1)
Resource Anything we obtain from the environment to meet our needs Some directly available for use: sunlight Some not directly available for use: petroleum Perpetual resource Solar energy

12 Some Sources Are Renewable and Some Are Not (2)
Renewable resource Several days to several hundred years to renew E.g., forests, grasslands, fresh air, fertile soil Sustainable yield Highest rate at which we can use a renewable resource without reducing available supply 12

13 Some Sources Are Renewable and Some Are Not (3)
Nonrenewable resources Energy resources Metallic mineral resources Nonmetallic mineral resources Reuse Recycle

14 Reuse Figure 1.7: Reuse: This child and his family in Katmandu, Nepal, collect beer bottles and sell them for cash to a brewery that will reuse them. Fig. 1-7, p. 11

15 Recycle Figure 1.8: Recycling: This family is carrying out items for recycling. Scientists estimate that we could recycle and reuse 80–90% of the resources that we now use and thus come closer to mimicking the way nature recycles essentially everything. Recycling is important but it involves dealing with wastes we have produced. Ideally, we should focus more on using less, reusing items, and reducing our unnecessary waste of resources. Fig. 1-8, p. 12

16 Countries Differ in Levels of Unsustainability (1)
Economic growth: increase in output of a nation’s goods and services Gross domestic product (GDP): annual market value of all goods and services produced by all businesses, foreign and domestic, operating within a country Per capita GDP: one measure of economic development

17 Countries Differ in Levels of Unsustainability (2)
Economic development: using economic growth to raise living standards More-developed countries: North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, most of Europe Less-developed countries: most countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America

18 Countries by Gross National Income per Capita
Figure 2 This map shows high-income, upper-middle income, lower-middle-income, and low-income countries in terms of gross national income (GNI) PPP per capita (U.S. dollars) in (Data from World Bank and International Monetary Fund) Supplement 8, Fig 2

19 1-2 How Are Our Ecological Footprints Affecting the Earth?
Concept 1-2 As our ecological footprints grow, we are depleting and degrading more of the earth’s natural capital.

20 We Are Living Unsustainably
Environmental degradation: wasting, depleting, and degrading the earth’s natural capital Happening at an accelerating rate Also called natural capital degradation

21 Natural Capital Degradation
Figure 1.9: These are examples of the degradation of normally renewable natural resources and services in parts of the world, mostly as a result of rising populations and resource use per person. Fig. 1-9, p. 13

22 Pollution Comes from a Number of Sources (1)
Sources of pollution Point sources E.g., smokestack Nonpoint sources E.g., pesticides blown into the air Main type of pollutants Biodegradable Nondegradable Unwanted effects of pollution

23 Pollution Comes from a Number of Sources (2)
Pollution cleanup (output pollution control) Pollution prevention (input pollution control)

24 Point-Source Air Pollution
Figure 1.10: This point-source air pollution rises from a pulp mill in New York State (USA). Fig. 1-10, p. 14

25 Nonpoint Source Water Pollution
Figure 1.11: The trash in this river came from a large area of land and is an example of nonpoint water pollution. Fig. 1-11, p. 14

26 Overexploiting Shared Renewable Resources: Tragedy of the Commons
Three types of property or resource rights Private property Common property Open access renewable resources Tragedy of the commons Common property and open-access renewable resources degraded from overuse Solutions

27 Ecological Footprints: A Model of Unsustainable Use of Resources
Ecological footprint: the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to provide the people in a region with indefinite supply of renewable resources, and to absorb and recycle wastes and pollution Per capita ecological footprint Unsustainable: footprint is larger than biological capacity for replenishment

28 Patterns of Natural Resource Consumption
Figure 1.12: Patterns of natural resource consumption: The top photo shows a family of five subsistence farmers with all their possessions. They live in the village of Shingkhey, Bhutan, in the Himalaya Mountains, which are sandwiched between China and India in South Asia. The bottom photo shows a typical U.S. family of four living in Pearland, Texas, with their possessions. Fig. 1-12a, p. 15

29 Patterns of Natural Resource Consumption
Figure 1.12: Patterns of natural resource consumption: The top photo shows a family of five subsistence farmers with all their possessions. They live in the village of Shingkhey, Bhutan, in the Himalaya Mountains, which are sandwiched between China and India in South Asia. The bottom photo shows a typical U.S. family of four living in Pearland, Texas, with their possessions. Fig. 1-12b, p. 15 29

30 Per Capita Ecological Footprint (hectares per person)
Total Ecological Footprint (million hectares) and Share of Global Biological Capacity (%) Per Capita Ecological Footprint (hectares per person) United States United States 2,810 (25%) 9.7 European Union 2,160 (19%) European Union 4.7 China 2,050 (18%) China 1.6 India 780 (7%) India 0.8 Japan 540 (5%) Japan 4.8 2.5 Unsustainable living 2.0 Number of Earths 1.5 Projected footprint Figure 1.13: Natural capital use and degradation. These graphs show the total and per capita ecological footprints of selected countries (top). In 2008, humanity’s total, or global, ecological footprint was at least 30% higher than the earth’s biological capacity (bottom) and is projected to be twice the planet’s biological capacity by around Question: If we are living beyond the earth’s renewable biological capacity, why do you think the human population and per capita resource consumption are still growing rapidly? (Data from Worldwide Fund for Nature, Global Footprint Network, Living Planet Report See 1.0 Ecological footprint 0.5 Sustainable living 1961 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 Year Fig. 1-13, p. 16

31 IPAT is Another Environmental Impact Model
I = P x A x T I = Environmental impact P = Population A = Affluence T = Technology

32 Less-Developed Countries
Consumption per person (affluence, A) Technological impact per unit of consumption (T) Environmental impact of population (I) Population (P) Figure 1.14: Connections: This simple model demonstrates how three factors—number of people, affluence (resource use per person), and technology—affect the environmental impact of populations in less-developed countries (top) and more-developed countries (bottom). More-Developed Countries Fig. 1-14, p. 17

33 Natural Systems Have Tipping Points
Ecological tipping point: an often irreversible shift in the behavior of a natural system Environmental degradation has time delays between our actions now and the deleterious effects later Long-term climate change Over-fishing Species extinction

34 Cultural Changes Have Increased Our Ecological Footprints
12,000 years ago: hunters and gatherers Three major cultural events Agricultural revolution Industrial-medical revolution Information-globalization revolution Current need for a sustainability revolution

35 Technology Increases Population
Figure 1.16: Technological innovations have led to greater human control over the rest of nature and to an expanding human population. Fig. 1-16, p. 19

36 1-3 Why Do We Have Environmental Problems?
Concept 1-3 Major causes of environmental problems are population growth, wasteful and unsustainable resource use, poverty, and exclusion of environmental costs of resource use from the market prices of goods and services.

37 Experts Have Identified Four Basic Causes of Environmental Problems
Population growth Wasteful and unsustainable resource use Poverty Failure to include the harmful environmental costs of goods and services in market prices

38 Causes of Environmental Problems
Population growth Unsustainable resource use Poverty Excluding environmental costs from market prices Figure 1.17: Environmental and social scientists have identified four basic causes of the environmental problems we face (Concept 1-3). Question: For each of these causes, what are two environmental problems that result? Fig. 1-17, p. 20

39 Industrial revolution
13 12 11 10 9 ? 8 7 Billions of people 6 5 4 3 Industrial revolution 2 Figure 1.18: Exponential growth: The J-shaped curve represents past exponential world population growth, with projections to 2100 showing possible population stabilization as the J-shaped curve of growth changes to an S-shaped curve. (This figure is not to scale.) (Data from the World Bank and United Nations, 2008; photo L. Yong/UNEP/Peter Arnold, Inc.) Black Death—the Plague 1 2–5 million years 8000 6000 4000 2000 2000 2100 Time B. C. A. D. Hunting and gathering Agricultural revolution Industrial revolution Fig. 1-18, p. 21

40 Affluence Has Harmful and Beneficial Environmental Effects
Harmful environmental impact due to High levels of consumption High levels of pollution Unnecessary waste of resources Affluence can provide funding for developing technologies to reduce Pollution Environmental degradation Resource waste

41 Poverty Has Harmful Environmental and Health Effects
Population growth affected Malnutrition Premature death Limited access to adequate sanitation facilities and clean water

42 Extreme Poverty Figure 1.19: Extreme poverty: This boy is searching through an open dump in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for items to sell. Many children of poor families who live in makeshift shantytowns in or near such dumps often scavenge most of the day for food and other items to help their families survive. Fig. 1-19, p. 22

43 Harmful Effects of Poverty
Figure 1.20: These are some of the harmful effects of poverty. Questions: Which two of these effects do you think are the most harmful? Why? (Data from United Nations, World Bank, and World Health Organization) Fig. 1-20, p. 22

44 Effects of Malnutrition
Figure 1.21: Global Outlook: One of every three children younger than age 5, such as this child in Lunda, Angola, suffers from severe malnutrition caused by a lack of calories and protein. According to the World Health Organization, each day at least 16,400 children younger than age 5 die prematurely from malnutrition and from infectious diseases often caused by drinking contaminated water. Fig. 1-21, p. 23

45 Prices Do Not Include the Value of Natural Capital
Companies do not pay the environmental cost of resource use Goods and services do not include the harmful environmental costs Companies receive tax breaks and subsidies Economy may be stimulated but there may be a degradation of natural capital

46 Environmentally Unfriendly Hummer
Figure 1.22: This Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle burns a great deal of fuel compared to other, more efficient vehicles. It therefore adds more pollutants to the atmosphere and, being a very heavy vehicle, does more damage to the roads and land on which it is driven. It also requires more material and energy to build and maintain than most other vehicles on the road. These harmful costs are not included in the price of the vehicle. Fig. 1-22, p. 24

47 Different Views about Environmental Problems and Their Solutions
Environmental ethics: what is right and wrong with how we treat the environment Planetary management worldview We are separate from and in charge of nature Stewardship worldview Manage earth for our benefit with ethical responsibility to be stewards Environmental wisdom worldview We are part of nature and must engage in sustainable use

48 1-4 What Is an Environmentally Sustainable Society?
Concept 1-4 Living sustainably means living off the earth’s natural income without depleting or degrading the natural capital that supplies it.

49 Environmentally Sustainable Societies Protect Natural Capital and Live Off Its Income
Environmentally sustainable society: meets current needs while ensuring that needs of future generations will be met Live on natural income of natural capital without diminishing the natural capital

50 We Can Work Together to Solve Environmental Problems
Social capital Encourages Openness and communication Cooperation Hope Discourages Close-mindedness Polarization Confrontation and fear

51 Case Study: The Environmental Transformation of Chattanooga, TN
Environmental success story: example of building their social capital 1960: most polluted city in the U.S. 1984: Vision 2000 1995: most goals met 1993: Revision 2000

52 Chattanooga, Tennessee
I Figure 1.23: Since 1984, citizens have worked together to make the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of the best and most sustainable places to live in the United States. Fig. 1-23, p. 26

53 Individuals Matter 5–10% of the population can bring about major social change We have only years to make the change to sustainability before it’s too late Rely on renewable energy Protect biodiversity Reduce waste and pollution

54 Wind Power Figure 1.24: Capturing wind power is one of the world’s most rapidly growing and least environmentally harmful ways to produce electricity. Fig. 1-24, p. 27

55 Planting a Tree Figure 1.25: This young child—like the grandchild of Emily and Michael in our fictional scenario of a possible future (Core Case study)—is promoting sustainability by preparing to plant a tree. A global program to plant and tend billions of trees each year will help to restore degraded lands, promote biodiversity, and reduce the threat of climate change from atmospheric warming. Fig. 1-25, p. 27

56 Three Big Ideas 1. We could rely more on renewable energy from the sun, including indirect forms of solar energy such as wind and flowing water, to meet most of our heating and electricity needs. 2. We can protect biodiversity by preventing the degradation of the earth’s species, ecosystems, and natural processes, and by restoring areas we have degraded.

57 Three Big Ideas We can help to sustain the earth’s natural chemical cycles by reducing our production of wastes and pollution, not overloading natural systems with harmful chemicals, and not removing natural chemicals faster than those chemical cycles can replace them.

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