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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
Chapter 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

2 Living in an Exponential Age
Human population growth: J-shaped curve

3 Population growth Resource use and waste Poverty Loss of biodiversity
Exponential Growth plays a key role in 5 important and interconnected environmental issues Population growth Resource use and waste Poverty Loss of biodiversity Global climate change

4 Biodiversity includes:
Genetic variation within a species Variety of species in an area Variety of habitat types within a landscape

5 What is Environmental Science?
The goals of environmental science are to learn: how nature works. how the environment effects us. how we effect the environment. how we can live more sustainably without degrading our life-support system.

6 Sustainability: The Integrative Theme
Sustainability, is the ability of earth’s various systems to survive and adapt to environmental conditions indefinitely. The steps to sustainability must be supported by sound science.

7 - changes in response to environmental changes
A Path to Sustainability Natural Capital Degradation Individuals Matter Natural Capital Solutions Trade-Offs Sound Science Natural Capital: the natural resources and natural services that keep us and other species alive and support our economies - it is not fixed - changes in response to environmental changes Figure 1.3 A path to sustainability: five subthemes are used throughout this book to illustrate how we can make the transition to more environmentally sustainable or durable societies and economies, based on sound science—concepts widely accepted by natural and social scientists in various fields.

8 Environmentally Sustainable Societies
… meets basic needs of its people in a just and equitable manner without degrading the natural capital that supplies these resources.

9 Some people disagree that we are living unsustainably
They believe we can overcome these problems by human ingenuity, economic growth, and technological advances

Economic growth provides people with more goods and services. Measured in gross domestic product (GDP) and purchasing power parity (PPP). Economic development uses economic growth to improve living standards. The world’s countries economic status (developed vs. developing) are based on their degree of industrialization and GDP-PPP.

11 The United Nations classifies the World’s countries as
Economically developed – 1.2 billion people U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, European countries Economically developing – 5.2 billion people Most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America Based primarily on their degree of industrialization and their per capita GDP

12 Global Outlook Comparison of developed and developing countries.
Figures 1-5 and 1-6

13 Percentage of World's 18 Population 82 Population Growth 0.1 1.5 85
Wealth and Income 15 Resource use 88 Figure 1.5 Global outlook: comparison of developed and developing countries, (Data from the United Nations and the World Bank) 12 Pollution and waste 75 25 Developed countries Developing countries Fig. 1-5, p. 11

14 Comparison of developed and developing countries
Feature Developed Developing Standard of living High Low Per capita food intake 3,100 – 3,500 cal/day (high) 1,500 – 2,700 cal/day (low) Crude birth rate 15/1000 pop. 33/1000 pop. Doubling time High (120 years) Low (33 years) Infant mortality Low (20/1000 births) High (90/1000 births) Life expectancy at birth High (72 years) Lower (57 years) Industrialization Energy use per person Illiteracy rate Low (1% - 4%) High (25% - 75%)

15 Nonrenewable Resources
Exist as fixed quantity Becomes economically depleted. Recycling and reusing extends supply Recycling processes waste material into new material. Reuse is using a resource over again in the same form.

16 Common-property / Free access Resources
Clean air Open ocean and its fish Migratory birds Wildlife species Publicly owned land Gases of lower atmosphere Space

17 Tragedy of the Commons Garrett Hardin (1968) wrote an article
“If I don’t use this resource, someone else will.”

18 Solutions to Common-Property
Use at rates well below their estimated sustainable yield Regulate ocean fishing, grazing lands, forests Convert common-property to private ownership Problems Private owners do not always do what is best for the natural resource Not practical for global common resource – cannot divide atmosphere, open ocean, most wildlife species, and migratory birds

19 Ecological Footprint The amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply each person or population with the renewable resources they use and to absorb or dispose of the wastes from such resources

20 Our Ecological Footprint
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded earths ecological capacity. Figure 1-7

21 Earth’s Ecological Capacity
Number of Earths Humanity's Ecological Footprint Figure 1.7 Natural capital use and degradation: total and per capita ecological footprints of selected countries in 2002 (left). By 2002, humanity’s average ecological footprint was about 39% higher than the earth’s ecological capacity (right). (Data from Worldwide Fund for Nature, UN Environment Programme, Global Footprint Network, Worldwatch Institute) Year Fig. 1-7c, p. 13

22 Bad News It will take 1.15 planet Earths to indefinitely supply our current use of renewable resources Would take the land area of about 4 more planet Earths for the rest of the World to reach U.S. levels of consumption China has the World’s largest population and hopes to increase its total and per capita economic growth, which will increase its ecological footprint

23 POLLUTION Found at high enough levels in the environment to cause harm to organisms. Point source Nonpoint source Figure 1-9

24 Two sources of Pollution
Point source smokestack of a coal burning power plant Drainpipe of a factory Exhaust of an automobile Nonpoint source Pesticides sprayed in the air Runoff of fertilizers and pesticides

25 Pollution Pollutants can have three types of unwanted effects:
Can disrupt / degrade life-support systems. Can damage health and property. Can create nuisances such as noise and unpleasant smells, tastes, and sights.

The major causes of environmental problems are: Population growth Wasteful resource use Poverty Poor environmental accounting Environmental ignorance

27 Natural capital degradation
The exponential increasing flow of material resources through the world’s economic systems depletes, degrades and pollutes the environment. Figure 1-11

28 Solutions: Prevention vs. Cleanup
Problems with relying on cleanup: Temporary bandage without improvements in control technology. Often removes a pollutant from one part of the environment to cause problems in another. Pollutants at harmful levels can cost too much to reduce them to acceptable levels.

29 Poverty and Environmental Problems
1 of 3 children under 5, suffer from severe malnutrition. Figure 1-12 and 1-13

30 Number of people (% of world's population) Lack of access to
Adequate Sanitation 2.4 billion (37%) Enough fuel for heating and cooking 2 billion (31%) Electricity 1.6 billion (25%) Clean drinking Water 1.1 billion (17%) Figure 1.12 Natural capital degradation: some harmful results of poverty. QUESTION: Which two of these effects do you believe are the most harmful? (Data from United Nations, World Bank, and World Health Organization) Adequate health care 1.1 billion (17%) Enough food for good health 1.1 billion (17%) Fig. 1-12, p. 18

31 Relationship Between Poverty and Environmental Problems
Deplete and degrade forests, soil, grasslands and wildlife for short-term survival Poor people often have many children to help grow food, gather fuel, haul drinking water, tend livestock, work, and beg in streets

32 Affluenza unsustainable addiction to overconsumption and materialism

33 Resource Consumption It takes about 27 tractor trailer loads of resources per year to support one American Average U.S. citizen consumes about 35x more than the average citizen of India and 100x more than the average person in the World’s poorest country Poor parents in a developing country would need children to have the same lifetime resource consumption as 2 children in a typical U.S. family

34 Connections between Environmental Problems and Their Causes
Figure 1-14

35 Technological impact per unit of consumption (T) Environmental
Developing Countries Consumption per person (affluence, A) Technological impact per unit of consumption (T) Environmental impact of population (I) Population (P) Figure 1.14 Connections: simplified model of how three factors—number of people, affluence, and technology—affect the environmental impact of the population in developing countries (top) and developed countries (bottom). Developed Countries Fig. 1-14, p. 20

Agricultural revolution Allowed people to stay in one place. Industrial-medical revolution Led shift from rural villages to urban society. Science improved sanitation and disease control. Information-globalization revolution Rapid access to information.

37 Aldo Leopold’s Environmental Ethics
Individuals matter. … land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity…

38 The End

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