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Introduction to Environmental Science

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1 Introduction to Environmental Science

2 Events this year

3 This lecture will help you understand:
The meaning of the term environment The importance of natural resources That environmental science is interdisciplinary Some pressures facing the global environment Sustainability and sustainable development

4 Environment: the total of our surroundings
All the things around us with which we interact: Living things Animals, plants, forests, fungi, etc. Nonliving things Continents, oceans, clouds, soil, rocks Our built environment Buildings, human-created living centers Social relationships and institutions

5 What Is Environmental Science?
Environmental Science is the study of how humans interact with their environment Our environment is everything that surrounds us, both natural and man-made.

6 Environmental science: how does the natural world work?
Environment  impacts  Humans It has an applied goal: developing solutions to environmental problems An interdisciplinary field Natural sciences: information about the world Environmental Science programs Social sciences: values and human behavior Environmental Studies programs


8 Resources What is the difference between a renewable and a non-renewable resource? With your partner come up with a list of 5 ways that human’s are interacting with the environment in sustainable and non-sustainable ways

9 Natural resources: vital to human survival
Natural resources = substances and energy sources needed for survival Renewable resources: Perpetually available: sunlight, wind, wave energy Renew themselves over short periods: timber, water, soil These can be destroyed Nonrenewable resources: can be depleted Oil, coal, minerals

10 Environmental science
… can help us avoid mistakes made by past civilizations. The lesson of Easter Island: people annihilated their culture by destroying their environment. Can we act more wisely to conserve our resources?

11 Environmental science is not environmentalism
The pursuit of knowledge about the natural world Scientists try to remain objective Environmentalism A social movement dedicated to protecting the natural world

12 Population & consumption
Human population growth exacerbates all environmental problems The growth rate has slowed…but we still add more than 200,000 people to the planet each day Our consumption of resources has risen even faster than our population growth. Life has become more pleasant for us so far However, rising consumption amplifies the demands we make on our environment.

13 Billions of people Time
16 15 ? 14 13 12 11 ? 10 9 Billions of people 8 ? 7 6 5 4 3 2 Black Death–the Plague 1 2-5 million years 8000 6000 4000 2000 2000 2100 Time B.C. A.D. Fig. 1.1, p. 2 Hunting and gathering Agricultural revolution Industrial revolution

14 How Fast does population double?
D= 70/G D (time, years) example 3 years! G (growth rate) example 2 % annual growth rate ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS BELOW! HOW long will it take a population with a 10% annual growth rate to double? How long will it take a population with a 1% growth rate to double?

15 Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons
Unregulated exploitation leads to resource depletion Soil, air, water Resource users are tempted to increase use until the resource is gone Solution? Private ownership? Voluntary organization to enforce responsible use? Governmental regulations?

16 A World Apart Yes! You need this!

17 Environmentally Sustainable Development
economic growth has allowed us to Live longer be healthier have more comfort It has not allowed us to stop environmental problems Wipe out poverty

18 Ethics… Discuss Are most Humans Ethical to the environment?
Are there benefits to industrialization? Is it better to have people live longer even though we must pollute more to sustain life?

19 More Money, More Consumers
The countries which have more wealth also use more of the Earth’s resources. We also produce more of the substances which may damage the Earth

20 Fig. 1-3 p. 5

21 The “ecological footprint”
The environmental impact of a person or population Amount of biologically productive land + water for raw materials and to dispose/recycle waste Overshoot: humans have surpassed the Earth’s capacity We are using 30% more of the planet’s resources than are available on a sustainable basis!

22 Ecological footprints are not all equal
The ecological footprints of countries vary greatly The U.S. footprint is almost 5 times greater than the world’s average Developing countries have much smaller footprints than developed countries

23 Population Question? Should individuals be allowed to have children? If so…how many? Should offspring be taxed?

24 We face challenges in agriculture
-Expanded food production led to increased population and consumption -It’s one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but at an enormous environmental cost Nearly half of the planet’s land surface is used for agriculture Chemical fertilizers Pesticides Erosion Changed natural systems

25 We face challenges in pollution
Waste products and artificial chemicals used in farms, industries, and households Each year, millions of people die from pollution

26 We face challenges in climate
Scientists have firmly concluded that humans are changing the composition of the atmosphere The Earth’s surface is warming Melting glaciers Rising sea levels Impacted wildlife and crops Increasingly destructive weather Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen by 37%, to the highest level in 650,000 years

27 We face challenges in biodiversity
Human actions have driven many species extinct, and biodiversity is declining dramatically Biodiversity loss may be our biggest environmental problem; once a species is extinct, it is gone forever

28 Sustainable solutions exist
We must develop solutions that protect both our quality of life and the environment Organic agriculture Technology Reduces pollution Biodiversity Protect species Waste disposal Recycling Alternative fuels

29 Sustainability: a goal for the future
How can humans live within the planet’s means? Humans cannot exist without functioning natural systems Sustainability Leaves future generations with a rich and full Earth Conserves the Earth’s natural resources Maintains fully functioning ecological systems Sustainable development: the use of resources to satisfy current needs without compromising future availability of resources

30 Will we develop in a sustainable way?
The triple bottom line: sustainable solutions that meet Environmental goals Economic goals Social goals Requires that humans apply knowledge from the sciences to Limit environmental impacts Maintain functioning ecological systems

31 Precautionary principle:
What is the precautionary principle and why is it hard to implement?

32 Conclusion Environmental science helps us understand our relationship with the environment and informs our attempts to solve and prevent problems. Identifying a problem is the first step in solving it Solving environmental problems can move us towards health, longevity, peace and prosperity Environmental science can help us find balanced solutions to environmental problems

33 Early Environmentalists
President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir were two of the first environmental activists. T. Roosevelt established the National Park System and the system of wildlife refuges found across the country. However much of the preservation system was based upon utilitarian conservation-the preserving of resources so they can provide homes and jobs for people.

34 Early Environmentalists
John Muir was a geologist, author and founder of the Sierra Club. Muir argued that nature deserved to exist for its own sake, regardless of its usefulness to us. His view was called altruistic preservation-emphasizing the fundamental right of other organisms to exist and to purse their own interests.

35 Natural Resources Muir and Roosevelt both saw the need to preserve natural resources Natural resources may be renewable such as solar energy and trees Natural resources may be non-renewable such as oil, natural gas or metals We must always be careful not to deplete renewable resources faster than they can be replaced, and to recycle and conserve nonrenewable resources.

36 A Century of “Growth” The inventions of the twentieth century had a remarkable effect on daily life. They also had a devastating effect on the environment. Human population reached 6,000,000,000 in 1999 and continues to grow. In Rachel Carson wrote a ground-breaking book on what was happening to the environment. Her book was called “Silent Spring”. It became a warning to change our ways.

37 “Silent Spring” The title of Carson’s book referred to the disappearance of songbirds due to the pollution of air and water. People were shocked by the severity of the problem. Carson’s book highlighted the effects of air and water pollution on humans and other species of animals.

38 The Growth of Environmentalism
In 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated to honor the Earth and shine a light on the damage being done to her. Thousands of people turned out across the country for rallies and demonstrations to bring attention, both political and popular to environmental problems. Later that same year, 1970, the first Clean Air Act was voted into law which made factories legally responsible for cleaning up what gases are produced through their smokestacks.

39 Scale of Environmental Problems
Environmental problems are typically categorized by the affected population. Global problems, like global warming and the hole in the ozone layer affect the entire world population. It is important to note that even though the entire planet’s population is affected, the problems are caused by people living in the world’s richest countries.

40 Social Economic Social Economic Sustainable Solutions Environmental

41 The Good News With all that said however, it is important to note that the wealthiest countries have done much to address the world’s environmental problems. The U.S. for example has much better air and water quality than it’s poorer neighbor, Mexico. Typically these “poorer” countries have few environmental protection laws and many of the same problems.

42 Gaia Hypothesis Is the Earth Living? True or untrue? Debate time!
Decide if you think the earth is living or not and come up with 5 pieces of evidence to support your belief.

43 What difficulties do we face when solving environmental problems
Come up with a list of 5 problems we face!

44 Social Economic Social Economic Sustainable Solutions Environmental

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