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Environmentalism The roots of a movement. Roots of Environmentalism Several different branches of science and social movement come together in today’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmentalism The roots of a movement. Roots of Environmentalism Several different branches of science and social movement come together in today’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmentalism The roots of a movement

2 Roots of Environmentalism Several different branches of science and social movement come together in today’s environmentalism: Conservation Preservation Ecology Biodiversity

3 Conservation vs. Preservation The goal of conservation is sustainable use and management of an economically important natural resource so that people can continue using the resource. The goal of preservation is to maintain areas of the earth that are so far untouched by human exploitation. “Conservation” is sometimes used to refer to both principles.

4 “Harmonious Nature” Myth There is a persistent belief in many cultures that in the “old days,” people lived in harmony with nature. In fact, use and abuse of nature has a long history in all human cultures.

5 Tragedy of the Commons First noted by William Forster Lloyd in 1833, and popularized by Garrett Hardin in 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons principle is a social or economic trap involving conflict between individual interests and the common good when using a finite resource.


7 The principle of a “commons” sometimes carries with it an idea that a finite resource is actually limitless. In cultures where individual rights are valued over group rights, any regulations on use of a “commons” may be resisted as a violation of individual rights. The Commons

8 The Tragedy An individual sees that he or she can get the most benefit by using as much of the resource as possible. The community may benefit most by dividing a resource among individuals so that the resource is not over-exploited and will continue. Tragedy of the Bunnies game

9 Examples of Commons National Forests and other public lands North American bison herds prior to the 1800s Ground water World petroleum supply The Earth itself

10 Regulating the Commons Early European settlers in North America passed the first conservation laws in this country to prevent over-exploitation of natural resources: 1626: Plymouth Colony passes a law to control cutting and sale of timber. 1639: Newport, Rhode Island passes a law to restrict deer hunting to six months out of the year. 1681: William Penn decreed that one acre of forest should be left uncut for every five that were cut.

11 George Catlin 1796-1892 American artist who painted scenes of the western frontier, capturing landscapes and cultures now vanished. Catlin protested against the slaughter of the American Bison by white Americans.

12 Conservation

13 Wild Birds - a “Commons” In the late Victorian era, an earlier fashion for plumes on ladies’ hats exploded into huge displays of wings, plumes, and entire birds on hats. Nearly 5 million wild birds were slaughtered annually for the fashion industry.

14 Editor Forest and Stream: In view of the fact that the destruction of birds for millinery purposes is at present attracting general attention, the appended list of native birds seen on hats worn by ladies in the streets of New York, may be of interest. It is chiefly the result of two late afternoon walks through the uptown shopping districts, and, while very incomplete, still gives an idea of the species destroyed and the relative numbers of each. Robin, four. Brown thrush, one. Bluebird, three. Blackburnion warbler, one. Blackpoll warbler, three. Wilson's black-capped flycatcher, three. Scarlet tanager, three. White-bellied swallow, one. Bohemian waxwing, one. Waxwing, twenty-three. Great northern shrike, one. Virginia rail, one. Laughing gull, one. Common tern, twenty-one. Black tern. one. Grebe, seven. Pine grosbeak, one. Snow bunting, fifteen. Tree sparrow, two. White-throated sparrow, one. Bobolink, one. Meadow lurk, two. Baltimore oriole, nine. Purple grackle, five. Bluejay, five. Swallow-tailed flycatcher, one. Kingbird, one. Kingfisher, one. Pileated woodpecker, one. Red-headed woodpecker, two. Golden-winged woodpecker, twenty-one. Acadian owl, one. Carolina dove, one. Pinnated grouse, one. Ruffed grouse, two. Quail, sixteen. Helmet quail, two. Sanderling, five Big yellowlegs, one. Green heron, one.

15 In addition, songbirds were hunted for food. Nature author Florence Merriam counted over 2000 robins in a single market stall in Washington, D.C. The Great Auk had already been hunted to extinction early in the 19th century, and hunting drove the Passenger Pigeon extinct shortly after 1900. Birds in Danger

16 Bird Conservation The American Ornithologist’s Union, formed in 1883, lobbied for laws to protect songbirds from being killed for fashion and for food. The National Audubon society, President Theodore Roosevelt, and many church groups successfully campaigned for passage of the Federal Migratory bird treaty act in 1918.

17 Sanctuary System In 1903, President Roosevelt established Pelican Island, Florida, as the nation’s first bird refuge. During the 1920’s, the National Audubon Society pressured Congress to establish a wildlife refuge system.

18 Preservation

19 Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 American poet and semi- recluse. At a time when people in the U.S. were just coming to see the wilderness as beautiful, Thoreau’s writings transformed their vision and inspired a new movement to preserve wild places.

20 Thomas Moran 1837-1926 American painter and photographer whose grand-scale paintings of Yellowstone inspired the creation of the first National Park (Yellowstone) in the U.S. in 1916.

21 John Muir 1838-1914 Naturalist who spent much of his time traveling in the west, especially the Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite. Muir’s activism helped save Yosemite and other natural areas.

22 National Park System Today’s National Park system sets aside wild lands for preservation. This involves a careful balance between public use (such as hiking and tourism) and preserving the land in as untouched a state as possible. In addition, the U.S.D.A Forest Service sets aside official Wilderness areas for preservation.

23 Ecology

24 Ecology as a Science Ecology is a branch of science that studies organisms in their environment: Relationships between organisms in the same habitat (community ecology) Relationships between organisms and their habitat (ecosystem ecology) The distribution of organisms (plant and animal geography)

25 Eugen Warming 1841-1924 Danish botanist who is credited with founding “oecology” as a scientific discipline. Wrote the first textbook on plant ecology in 1895, which was translated into German and was widely influential.

26 Eugene Odum 1913-2002 American scientist who was a pioneer of ecosystem ecology. Published Ecology in 1963. His concept of the earth as a set of interacting ecosystems directly influenced the environmental movement.

27 Biodiversity

28 The term “biodiversity” refers to the range of different life forms in a given ecosystem. A coral reef is highly diverse, whereas a cornfield has little diversity. The term “biological diversity” was in use before the 1960s. “Biodiversity” was probably coined by W.G. Rosen and first published by Edward O. Wilson.

29 E.O. Wilson 1929- American entomologist and naturalist, and a strong advocate of naming and preserving biodiversity. Developed the controversial theory of Sociobiology.

30 The Diversity of Life Published in 1992, Wilson’s The Diversity of Life describes the sweeping diversity of living organisms on the planet. Wilson also comments on the dichotomy between humankind’s connection to the natural world and our social attempts to separate ourselves from nature. He argues for preservation of all biodiversity.

31 Source of Biodiversity Evolutionary theory, the foundation of modern biology, describes biodiversity as the result of evolution. Diversity has varied during the Earth’s history: extinction events have lowered diversity, adaptive radiation has increased diversity.

32 Distribution and Diversity Species are not evenly distributed over the Earth. Some ecosystems are more diverse than others. Species distribution depends on many abiotic factors such as climate, soil type, altitude, etc. Diversity may be increased by the presence of specialized habitats, such as peat bogs, coral reefs, etc., that require a high degree of specialization.

33 Diversity and Disaster Diverse habitats tend to be more resistant to localized disasters. A diverse grassland can better withstand the introduction of a new plant disease than a stand of corn can. However, the high degree of specialization among organisms in highly diverse ecosystems can increase the vulnerability of these species to climate change. In past extinction events, coral reefs have been the hardest hit.

34 Environmentalism

35 Environmentalism is a social movement aimed at preserving biodiversity and the earth’s environment. We are living in a major extinction event — and humans are the cause of it. Environmentalism is a response to human activity that is causing extinctions of species and of habitats.

36 Rachel Carson 1907-1964 American marine biologist and popular science writer whose publication of Silent Spring in 1962 launched the present environmental movement. Also known for The Sea Around Us (1951)

37 Threats to Biodiversity Threats to diversity in an ecosystem include: Habitat destruction Introduced species Pollution (chemical, genetic) Population (of humans) Overconsumption

38 Humans are omnivores, capable of eating a wide variety of foods. We can create a human food chain by looking at our meat sources. Human Food Chain

39 Grass-fed Food Chain A cow can convert grass, which we cannot eat, into meat, which we can. We obtain 8-10% of the energy that a pasture-fed cow consumes.

40 Industrial Food Chain Corn, which could be fed to humans, is fed to feedlot cattle. Because of overproduction, corn is cheap. A cow’s digestive system is not adapted to eating corn. The cattle are often sick, and much of the energy is wasted. Cheap burgers come at a high ecological cost. The industrial food chain is about 1/3 as efficient as the grass food chain.

41 Carbon Cycle Carbon forms the backbone of all organic molecules. Carbon from the atmosphere is “fixed” by producers, which manufacture organic molecules using the sun’s energy. Breakdown of these molecules releases carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere.

42 Carbon Cycle

43 Global Warming “Global Warming” — better termed “Global Climate Change” — has been strongly linked to levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While natural events add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, humans activity also contributes to carbon levels.

44 Fossil Fuels Fossil fuels are the remains of ancient swamps. Plants fixed carbon as carbon- rich organic compounds. Carbon compounds accumulated in swamps over hundreds of millions of years. In less than 200 years, humans have burned nearly half of the world’s fossil fuels.

45 Greenhouse Effect

46 Carbon and Temperature

47 Future Trends? The outcome depends on what happens to the west Antarctic ice shelf.

48 Current Effects

49 Consider where you stand on issues of conservation, preservation, biodiversity, and environmentalism. As a class, we will discuss our ideas and our responses as individuals to the issues. Discussion

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