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The Environment and Society

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Presentation on theme: "The Environment and Society"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Environment and Society
Chapter 1 Section 2

2 Tragedy of the Commons (1968) Garrett Hardin’s essay addressed the conflict between the short-term interests of individuals and the long-term welfare of society

3 Commons The commons were areas of land that belonged to a whole village Anyone could graze cows or sheep on the commons

4 Problem with the Commons
Short-term interest: each individual wanted to graze as many animals as possible (“If I don’t use this resource, someone else will!”) Long-term welfare: when too many animals were allowed to graze on the commons, the grass was destroyed and everyone suffered (overgrazing = fewer animals)

5 Hardin’s Main Idea If no one takes responsibility for maintaining a resource, it can become over used and depleted Earth’s natural resources are our modern commons (everyone is using the resources, but few are concerned with conservation)

6 Economics and the Environment
Supply and Demand: The greater the demand for a limited supply of something, the more it is worth Example: oil (as oil supplies decrease, prices go up)

7 Costs and Benefits Balances the cost of an action against the benefits
Results often depend on WHO is doing the analysis To an industry, the cost of pollution control may outweigh the benefits To a nearby community, the benefits may be worth the high price

8 Risk Assessment Used to create cost-effective ways to protect our health AND the environment To reach an effective solution, the public must perceive the risk accurately

9 Developed and Developing Countries
Developed: higher average incomes, slower population growth, diverse industrial economies, stronger social support systems Ex: U.S., Canada, Japan. Western Europe Developing: lower average incomes, simple agriculture-based economies, rapid population growth Ex: Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia

10 Population and Consumption
Local Population Pressures When populations grow rapidly, there may not be enough natural resources for everyone to live a healthy, productive life Common problems: deforestation, depletion of topsoil, animal extinction, malnutrition, starvation, disease

11 Consumption Trends Developed nations use more natural resources than developing nations Ex: Use 75% of world’s resources, but only make up 20% of the world’s population!

12 Ecological Footprint The productive area of Earth needed to support one person in a particular country Includes land for crops and grazing, forest products, housing, ocean area for seafood, forest area needed to absorb air pollution from fossil fuels, etc.

13 Environmental Science in Context
Environmental problems are complex and require critical thinking skills To complicate problems, the environment has become a battleground for political agendas Listen to both sides of a problem and identify your own bias

14 Main Causes of Environmental Problems
1. population crisis: human popn. Is growing too quickly for Earth to support 2. consumption crisis: humans use up, waste, pollute, and destroy natural resources faster than they could be cleaned up or replaced

15 A Sustainable World Sustainability: a condition in which human needs are met in such a way that a human popn could survive indefinitely Requires everyone’s participation

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