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Presentation on theme: "SCIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT"— Presentation transcript:


2 Section 1: Understanding our Environment
Environmental science studies the impact of humans on the environment. goals: understanding and solving environmental problems 2 focus areas: (1) how we use natural resources and (2) how our actions alter our environment branches/fields of study (w/i env. science): ecology, geology, chemistry, botany, zoology, paleontology, social sciences...INTERDISCIPLINARY!

Hunter-Gatherers: fires, overhunting…strategies! Led to: Agriculture (collecting seeds— artificial selection, domesticating animals); began ~10,000 years ago in various parts of the world. Dramatic impact on societies and the environment…called the agricultural revolution.

4 Lasting Effects Due to the replacement of forests, grasslands, and wetlands with farmlands, long-lasting effects resulted: Habitats were lost Soil loss (due to replacement of forests with farms) Floods (due to replacement of forests with farms) Water shortages (due to irrigation) Infertile soil (due to overfarming)

5 Next…Industrial Revolution
Up until the mid 1700s, societies were powered primarily by the work of humans or animals—then began the switch to fossil fuels (coal and oil). Result: increased efficiency and productivity of agriculture, industry, and transportation Less land needed for agriculture—fewer people grew their own food and urban populations increased Positive changes in quality of life: invention of the light bulb, telephone and the portable computer; sanitation, nutrition and medical care improved Negatives: replacement of natural animal and plant products with artificial substances (ex. plastics, pesticides); most of environmental science is concerned with the problems associated with the IR.

6 Earth’s Problems? Earth is a closed system: only energy from the sun can enter and only heat energy can leave. b/c some resources are limited, as the population grows, resources will be used more wastes are produced more quickly than we can dispose of them (i.e. pollution) Different scales of env. problems: local (property owners dispute about land use or pest problem), regional (polluted drinking water), or global (ozone depletion)

7 3 Main Environmental Problems
Resource depletion: occurs when a large fraction of natural resources has been used up (renewable vs. nonrenewable) Pollution: an undesired change in air, water, or soil that negatively affects the health, survival, or activities of humans OR other organisms (biodegradable vs. non-degradable) Loss of biodiversity: extinction, species are considered to be a non-renewable resource Biodiversity: the number and variety of species in a given area.

8 Section 2: The Environment and Society
“The Tragedy of the Commons” by ecologist Garrett Hardin published in 1968 The problem in solving environmental issues is the conflict that results from short-term interests and long-term interests Someone/group has to take responsibility for mainatining a resource---otherwise the resource(s) can become overused and then depleted. Long-term solutions and improvements have to take precedence

9 Economics and the Environment
Factors that influence how we use resources: Social Pressures Supply and Demand (ex. production of oil and price…choices: increase price, decrease use, find new sources of energy) Costs and Benefits risk assessment—important that the risk is perceived accurately

10 Developed vs. Developing
Developed: countries having higher avg. incomes, slower population growth, diverse industrial economies, and stronger social support systems (UN) US, Canada, Japan, and the countries of Western Europe Use about 75% of the world’s resources but only make up about 20% of the world’s population! Why? quality of life Developing: countries having lower avg. incomes, simple and agriculture-based economies, and rapid population growth (UN) Haiti, India, Chile, Mexico, Libya, Thailand ~5.2 billion people live in developing countries; fewer than ½ have access to enough food, safe drinking water, and proper sanitation. Result: malnutrition, starvation, disease, soil infertility, animal extinction.


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