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Ecology and Engineering CE 3 Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering
What is Ecology? Greek “oikos” meaning family household, and logy meaning the study of. Odum (1963) defined it as “The structure and function of Nature.” Krebs (1972) defined “Ecology is the scientific study of the processes regulating the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interactions among them, and the study of how these organisms in turn mediate the transport and transformation of energy and matter in the biosphere.
Why Ecology? Interactions between populations and their environment. Uses a systems approach. Movement of energy, water, nutrients, food (local and global scales). Population growth, death, competition, community response to change.
Concepts from Ecology inevitably lead us to look at population.
Carrying capacity is the maximum population that an environment can sustain.
Population is only part of the story. When you consider that 20% of the world’s population is consuming 80% of the world’s resources, it’s not necessarily the quantity that counts but who the population is.
In last fifty years, US population has increased by less than a factor of 2. Energy use has more than tripled. Water use has quadrupled. Even when factoring in considerable conservation measures.
Ecological Footprint developed by Rees and colleagues (1996) How much land is needed to grow food, grow energy, absorb wastes, support recycling, absorb heat, absorb green house gases… ? Measures the amount of renewable and non-renewable ecologically productive land area required to support the resource demands and absorb the wastes of a given population or specific activity.
Typical components used to calculate the ecological footprint Electricity Heat Recycled Waste Landfill Waste Water Food Wood Products Transportation (for travel and for freight)
Source: World Wide Fund for Nature
UVM’s Ecological Footprint Swain (2004) FY 2000, UVM’s footprint was 59,542 global acres (5.17 global acres/person). Over 75% result of energy consumption (heat, electricity, transportation). Not sustainable by any measure. In order to achieve sustainability must reduce footprint by 73%. Campus expansions will increase UVM footprint by estimated 16%.
Breakdown of ecological footprint components for UVM
Sustainability Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Why Ecology? How do our actions change our environment? How can we minimize detrimental effects? Limits to growth in order to be sustainable. Natural systems are models of sustainability?
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