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Topic 8 – Environment and Society

Topic 8 – Environment and Society

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Topic 8 – Environment and Society

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  1. Topic 8 – Environment and Society A – Environmental Perception and Concern B – Environmental Impacts of Human Activities

  2. A. Environmental Perception and Concern • 1. Historical Changes • 2. Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • 3. Environmental Retreat (1980s) • 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check

  3. 1. Historical Changes • Western perspective • Nature as adversary, something that had to be overcome. • Pronounced man/nature dichotomy. • Attitudes towards unrestrained exploitation of natural resources. • No sense of limits in terms of capacity. • Often supported by religious beliefs, particularly Christianity. • Non-Western societies • Lower technology levels and different attitudes prevailed. • Man / nature symbiolism. • Modernization changed the relationship. Nature Nature

  4. Technological Changes and Environment Relationships

  5. Climate Change and the Collapse of Civilizations

  6. 1. Historical Changes • Preservation vs. conservation dichotomy • Preservation: • Focused on the maintenance of wilderness. • Any use of the resources contained therein would negate the continued existence of the wilderness itself. • Low impact tourism often permitted. • Conservation: • Favors resource management. • Preventing rampant exploitation but allowing some development to occur. • Difficult to assess the right level of resource exploitation (non-renewable resources). Preservation Conservation

  7. 1. Historical Changes • Early conservation movements • In Europe, early conservation movements were the preserve of the elite. • Mainly hunting grounds in large private estates. • Helped to preserve many species in Europe that would otherwise have disappeared. • National parks • First was Yosemite (1864). • Protection of one or several ecosystems from human exploitation or alteration. • Protected by the highest authority in the country. • Visitors must respect a set of rules and regulations.

  8. 2. Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s)

  9. 2. Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • Legislations • Regulatory laws were passed in the USA and elsewhere. • Enforcement agencies were created: • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the USA was created in the early 1970s. • Most states created their own environmental protection agencies. • Legislation was passed to help correct environmental hazards already created. • Prevent additional problems from arising. • Air quality improved in many areas; cleaner water reappeared.

  10. 2. Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • Environmentalism and the global crisis • Carried the roots of environmentalism beyond local and national scales to the global scale. • Transnational dimensions of many environmental problems: • Many environmental problems do not recognize boundaries. • Acid rain in Western Europe (Sweden) and North America. • First UN Conference on the Human Environment: • Stockholm, 1972. • Creation of the UN Environmental Programme. • Rise of the neo-Malthusian perspective: • Rising concern over population growth. • Formation of the Club of Rome (1968). • Publication of the Limits to Growth (1972); First Oil Shock (1973). • Emergence of ZPG approach. • All those concerns turned out to be unfounded.

  11. 3. Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Retreat • Retreat for the environmental movement in the USA. • The Oil Shocks (1973, 1979) helped weaken public support for environmental programs. • Conservative agenda of de-regulation. • Shift to a conservation approach: • National Forests. • Clearcutting regulations were weakened. • Easier exploitation by timber companies, especially in the Pacific Northwest. • Expand drilling into several protected areas.

  12. 3. Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Creation of a sustainable development ideology • Carbon Dioxide was found to cause global warming (1983). • A hole in the ozone layer was found over the Antarctic (1985). • Brundtland Report “Our Common Future”: • Sustainable is used for the first time. • Maintenance of life support systems. • Working to reduce the threats to those systems represented by erosion, pollution, deforestation, etc. • Preservation of genetic diversity. • Providing us with insurance for the future by guarding against the ravages of crop diseases. • Investment for future crop-breeding or pharmaceutical development. • Sustainable development of species and ecosystems

  13. 3. Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Environmental ethics • “We have not inherited the earth from our parents; we have borrowed it from our children.” • Development is often viewed in materialistic terms. • Focusing on resource utility through conservation. • Environmentalism as an elitist attitude intended to prevent development in the South.

  14. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • UN World Conference on Environment and Development • Rio de Janeiro (1992): • Largest such gathering ever (100 heads of state). • Placed the environmental agenda at the center of the world stage. • Development made possible by the end of the Cold War. • Establish “Agenda 21”, a blueprint for action. • Europe and Japan: • World leaders in environmental affairs. • USA: • Role of obstructionist. • Objected to any negative references concerning consumption patterns in the developed countries. • Had the most to lose.

  15. Average Temperature at the Earth's Surface and World Carbon Emissions From Fossil Fuel Burning, 1880-2002

  16. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Factors of global change • Changes in the earth’s orbit: • Ice ages linked with orbital changes and the earth’s tilt. • Changes in the sun’s intensity: • Slight fluctuations. • Volcanic eruptions: • Carbon Dioxide and aerosols into the atmosphere. • Changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. • Changes in ocean currents.

  17. Estimated Climate Factors Change, 1850-2000 (in watts/m2)

  18. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • The Rio Declaration (1992) • “development must occur on a sustainable basis to meet the needs of present and future generations.” • Lack of detail and no operational aspects are considered. • Have relatively little meaning. • Global Warming Treaty • “Stabilization of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level which would prevent dangerous interference with climate systems.” • Lacks a specific timetable for decreasing emissions. • No mandatory maximum levels for emissions. • Most countries endorsed guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

  19. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Biodiversity Convention (1992) • Guarantees the protection and conservation of plant and animal species threatened with extinction. • Declares who has the right to develop and market products based on such species. • The USA opposed this treaty (biotechnology sector).

  20. Countries Having Ratified the Biodiversity Convention, 2004

  21. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Agenda 21(Blueprint for Action) • Commitment to sustainable development through a set of four program areas. • 1) Promoting sustainable development through trade. • 2) Making trade and environment mutually supportive. • 3) Providing adequate financial resources to developing countries: • Committed to 0.7% of GNP. • Currently stands at around 0.5% of GNP for most European countries, Canada, and Japan. • Just 0.25% for the USA. • 4) Encouraging economic policies conducive to sustainable development

  22. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Kyoto Protocol (1997) • The Global Warming Treaty was not working. • 2000 goals would not achieved. • High profile meeting in Kyoto in 1997. • 160 nations formally adopted the protocol: • Legally committing industrial countries do reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions. • Reduce climate-altering gases by 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. • Developing countries, mainly China and India, objected: • Meeting the target would cripple their economies leaning on coal. • Developing countries were thus exempted. • Seriously undermines the potential effectiveness of the protocol.

  23. Countries Having Ratified the Kyoto Protocol, 2004

  24. Characteristics of the Kyoto Protocol

  25. Total Carbon Emissions, 1900-1999 (in millions of tons)

  26. Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions, 1995

  27. 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Major environmental treaties • 1959 Washington: Antarctic Treaty • 1963 Moscow: Nuclear Test Ban Treaty • 1971 Ramsar: Wetlands of International Importance • 1972 London: Ocean Dumping & Biological Weapons • 1973 Washington: Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) • 1978 London: Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) • 1979 Bonn: Migratory Species • 1982 Montego Bay: Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) • 1985 Vienna: Ozone Layer • 1987 Montreal: Ozone Layer • 1989 Basel: Transboundary Hazardous Waste • 1992 Rio: Climate Change & Biodiversity • 1997 Kyoto: Climate Change

  28. 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check • Perspective • Low or over valuation of the environment: • Consumers and environmental radicals. • Maximization of wealth and risk taking. • No limits to growth and problems can be overcome by technology. • Short term perspective. • Ostrich's approach? • Environmental divide • Between developing and developed countries. • Between Europe and the United States. • Economic growth becomes the dominant paradigm. • Clashes: Seattle (1999).

  29. 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check • Dependency • Societies are caught in the requirements they have created: • Economic growth. • Standard of living. • Mobility. • Shift of emphasis • Adaptation, more than prevention. • Cope with the consequences of GW instead of dealing with the sources.

  30. Environmental Perception: Who Cares? Very Important World Global Warming Some Importance Nation Little Importance No Importance Air pollution Community Hazardous materials Family Week Year Lifetime Next Generation

  31. 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check • Environmentalism = Fascism? • Irrationalism and fear mongering: • Self-righteousness and hatred of different ideas. • Moral decay: use of violence, deception and bio-terrorism to achieve goals. • Science is less part of the agenda: • Replaced by ideology and dogmatism. • Environmentalism vs rights and freedom: • Takes away private property rights and freedom. • The goal is socialism / communism and control of the population. • They know best and you should be coerced to adopt their strategies.

  32. 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check • Biocentrism: • Assume an intrinsic value to nature. • Human beings are less important (no or less intrinsic value) than nature. • Humans as evil and vermin (cancer) that implicitly should be exterminated (for the sake of significant reduction in numbers). • Undermines human rights, freedom and dignity. • Issues: • Should we follow the policies of those whom at start have an implicit hatred of human beings and technology? • The environmental movement as the philosophic enemy of the human race?

  33. B. Environmental Impacts of Human Activities • 1. Driving Forces • 2. The Vicious Circle • 3. The Ecological Footprint

  34. 1. Driving Forces • Context • Demographic growth. • Growing size (scale) of societies and communities. • Urbanization. • Technological development. • Development failures. • Larger levels of personal consumption. • Higher generation of wastes: • Several are difficult to be absorbed. • Growing impacts on the environment

  35. 1. Driving Forces • Population change • A world of 6.3 billion “consumers”. • Each addition of consumers generate more pressures on: • Food. • Water. • Energy. • Raw materials. • Space. • Comparable negative impact on the environment. • What will be the impacts of about 9 billion consumers by 2050?

  36. 1. Driving Forces • Promotion of economic growth • Market economies are based on economic expansion: • Growth of production (supply). • Growth of consumption (demand). • Issue reinforced by globalization. • Governments try to reinforce economic growth: • Elected for such a purpose. • Reversed if they “mismanage” the economy. • Consequences: • Depletion of nonrenewable resources. • Overuse of renewable resources. • Between 1995 and 1998 the world’s economic output exceeded the output from the beginning of history to 1900.

  37. 1. Driving Forces • Culture and belief systems • Consumerism incarnates materialistic values in human behavior. • Fulfillment derived from the accumulation of goods. • Becoming the dominant global social paradigm. • Positive outcomes: • Expands the demand side of the market economy. • Forces constant innovations by entrepreneurs to satisfy the market. • Improve standards of living (luxuries becoming staples). • Negative outcomes: • Cultural vacuum. • Wants become needs (“keeping up with the Joneses”). • Misallocation of capital.

  38. Fulfillment Curve Other means Luxury Comfort Fulfillment Extravagance Survival Consumption

  39. 1. Driving Forces • Technology • Population growth, economic growth and consumerism existed, to various degrees, before the industrial revolution. • Multiplying effects: • Technological growth often the result of resource depletion. • More efficient technologies also a factor of accelerated resource depletion. • So far, technology as been more a factor of resource depletion and environmental destruction than of conservation.

  40. 2. The Vicious Circle • Era of superdisasters • Climate change. • Deforestation. • Poverty. • Crowding. • Collision to create larger hazards • 1 billion people are living in shantytowns. • Several of the largest cities are at risk by earthquakes. • 50% of the global population lives along the coastline. • 10 million are at high risk of being flooded. • 96% of all causalities from natural disasters are in the Third World.

  41. 2. The Vicious Circle Poverty Population Environment Instability

  42. 2. The Vicious Circle

  43. 3. The Ecological Footprint • System processing inputs to produce outputs • Inputs: • Energy and raw materials. • Processes: • Energy and raw materials with labor and infrastructure. • Outputs: • Products, services and wastes. • Offers conditions (opportunities) to support its working conditions and insure its growth. • Fast growth can be seen as a disease (cancer). • Sustainability achieved through the reduction of inputs and outputs. Energy Raw materials Inputs Processes Outputs Products Services Wastes

  44. Material Flow Cycle Resource supply Production and manufacturing Consumption Waste or losses Post-consumer discards Recycling Recycled flow Landfills, impoundments, Deep wells and ocean disposal Releases to air, land and water Sink Renewable and Nonrenewable resources

  45. 3. The Ecological Footprint • Environmental sink • The environment is a sink. • Rate at which it can accumulate (and often transform) wastes. • Each component of the environmental system has a different capacity and rate of accumulation. • Consideration of physical measures of environmental damage. Sink Lithosphere Hydrosphere Atmosphere Ecosphere

  46. 3. The Ecological Footprint • Impacts • Possible to measure the general impacts of human activities on the environment. • Requires two basic measures: • Biocapacity (supply). • Ecological footprint (demand). • Becomes a matter of balance between biocapacity and ecological footprint. • The ecological footprint must be lower than the biocapacity of the world. Bioproductivity Area Biocapacity Population Consumption FootprintIntensity Ecological Footprint

  47. 3. The Ecological Footprint • Calculating biocapacity and ecological footprint • Biocapacity: • Inventory of the biologically productive land and its yield. • More intensive management can boost yields, but if additional resources are used this also increases the footprint. • Footprint: • Keep track of most of the resources consumed and the wastes generated. • Consumption from cropland, grassland and pasture, fishing and forest. • Area required to absorb the CO2 released. • Converted to a biologically productive area necessary to provide these functions. • The footprint is not a continuous: • Due to international trade, the land and water areas used by most global citizens are scattered all over the planet. • Deficit areas can import from surplus areas.

  48. World’s Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity, 1961-2003

  49. Ecological Balance, 1993

  50. Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity for Selected Countries, 2003 (in ha/person)