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What is environmental science?

time to find out why you took this course

Rebecca Deeley

on 4 September 2013

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Transcript of What is environmental science?

What is environmental science?
global change
Environment is abiotic and biotic factors that affect a living organism.
social science
we are altering our environment
Our solar capital is unlimited-perpetual resource.
Our natural capital is limited-some is renewable and some is nonrenewable.
How governments use their capital affects growth; how peoples use their capital affects growth.
sustainable: to use resources in such a way as to meet needs now and provide for needs in the future
sustainable society: meets basic needs-food, clean water, air, soil, and shelter
protect capital while supporting growth
Rule of 70
(you should KNOW this)
Way to estimate population growth
Doubling time is years for population to double its size
Rule of 70: 70/percentage growth rate = doubling time in years
US: 70/0.92 (2005 est.) = 76 years
India: 70/1.4= 50 years
Sweden: 70/.17 = 412 years
Economic growth
Increase in capacity to provide people with goods and services
Population growth (more consumers and producers)
More consumption per capita
Economic growth indices
GNI: gross national income (was GNP: gross national product)
GNI PPP: gross national income in purchasing power parity
GDP: gross domestic product
GWP: gross world product
Per capita GNI (calculated at midyear)
Per capita GNI PPP
Developed countries
US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, all countries in Europe
Highly industrialized
Per capita GNI PPP > $10,750/year
19% of world population
85% of world’s wealth
Use 88% of world’s resources
Generate 75% of pollution and waste of world
Developing countries
Africa, Asia and Latin American countries
Middle income per capita GNI PPP ~$3-11K
Low income per capita GNI PPP <$3K
81% of population
15% of world wealth
12% of world resources
25% of world pollution and wastes
Increase by 1 million people every 5 days-why?
Anthropogenic changes contribute to global change
73% of habitable land has been disturbed
Gases emitted into atmosphere largely from burning fossil fuels also from other anthropogenic sources have altered climate: global warming at in increased rate
Alterations in climate include shifting arable areas or reduction in arable land
Alteration of precipitation by amount, location, and phase
Alteration of community structure
Sea level rise
Integrated world view and environmental world change as a function of social and economic forces
Environmental Effects
Global transmission of infectious diseases
Invasive aliens
Global transport of natural and chemical pollutants-air and water
Anything from environment to meet our needs
Food, water, air, soil, shelter, good, transportation, communication and recreation
3 categories: perpetual, renewable, nonrenewable
Renewable Resources
Replenished within our life time (less than decades, less than 100 years)
Not sustainable if used more rapidly
Forests, grasslands, wild animals, fresh water, fresh air, arable soil
Depletion vs degradation
Highest rate at which it can be used INDEFINITELY without depleting or degrading resource is sustainable yield
Environmental degradation
Urbanization of productive land
Waterlogging or salinization
Aquifer depletion/contamination
Overgrazing grasslands
Reduction of biodiversity
NONrenewable resources
Fixed quantity
Energy resources: coal, oil, natural gas
Metallic and nonmetallic minerals
What are alternatives once a nonrenewable resource becomes economically depleted?
Costs of extraction and using what is left exceed its economic value.
Find more
Recycle or reuse existing supplies
Waste less; use less
Try to develop substitute
Wait millions of years for more to be made
5 r's of waste
1. refuse to buy
2. reduce what you buy
3. reuse what you bought
4. recycle what you bought after you have reused it
5. once it hits landfill, recover nonrenewable resources
Ecological footprint
Amount of land needed to produce resources needed by an average person in a country
It is a way to express environmental impact
Hectare metric = 100 acres
Any addition to air, water, soil, or food that threatens the health, survival or activities of living organisms
Point sources of pollution emanate pollution from a single, identifiable source
Nonpoint pollution emanates from many possible sources and are dispersed over a large area land or in water or air
Most regulations apply to point pollution sources
Pollution Prevention
Once pollutants have entered water, soil, or air in harmful levels, it is usually too costly to reduce the pollutants to an acceptable level (superfund sites)
The best solutions would be to prevent pollutants from reaching environment or to reduce the amount of pollutants
kAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Tragedy of the commons
Degradation of common property or free access resources
Air, water, migratory birds, wildlife species, publicly owned lands, space
Everyone contributes to degradation and no one feels responsible for conservation or restoration
Major Environmental Problems
Air pollution
Water pollution
Food supply problems
Waste production
Loss of biodiversity
Main Causes of Environmental Problems
Rapid population growth
Unsustainable resource use
Not including the environmental costs of economic
goods and services in their market prices
Trying to manage and simplify nature with too
little knowledge about how it works
Environmental Wisdom Worldview
Nature does not exist for use and we are not in charge.
There is not always more.
Some forms of technology and economic growth are environmentally beneficial. Those that are not should be discouraged.
Our success depends on learning how the earth sustains itself and adapting to that pattern.
Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development
Economic rewards (gov. subsidies, tax incentives, emissions trading) to encourage environmentally beneficial and sustainable forms of economic development
Economic penalties to discourage env harmful economic growth
Shifting the dominant paradigm
From pollution clean up to prevention
From waste disposal to waste prevention
From protecting species to protecting places
From env degradation to env restoration
From increased resource use to more efficient resource use
From population growth to population stabilization by decreasing birth rates
subvert the dominant paradigm
Full transcript