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Introduction to Environmental Science

Introduction to Environmental Science. Chapter 1. Key Terms. What is an ‘environment’? Everything that can affect a living organism is its environment. Food, shelter, air, water, soil, forest, gases, etc. What is environmental science?

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Introduction to Environmental Science

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  1. Introduction to Environmental Science Chapter 1

  2. Key Terms • What is an ‘environment’? • Everything that can affect a living organism is its environment. • Food, shelter, air, water, soil, forest, gases, etc. • What is environmental science? • A study of how the Earth works, how we interact with the Earth, and how deal with environmental problems. • It is interdisciplinary from physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, geography, etc.

  3. More Basic Concepts… • What is sustainability? • Refers to the ability of a system to survive for an extended period of time. • What does sustainable development mean? • Development that meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs • We protect the world today for our children tomorrow. • Sustainable development can vary depending on the viewpoint we take • (environmental, economic, or social)

  4. Five characteristics that define sustainability • 1. Renewability- a community must use renewable resources, such as water, topsoil, and energy sources no quicker than they can replace them.

  5. 2. Substitution- whenever possible, a community should use renewable resources instead of nonrenewable resources.

  6. 3. Interdependence- A sustainable community recognizes that it is part of a larger system and that it cannot be sustainable unless the larger system is also sustainable. A sustainable community does not import resources in a way to impoverish another community or send pollution as an export.

  7. 4.Adaptability- A sustainable community can adapt to adverse and advantageous opportunities. This requires a diversified economy , educated citizens and a spirit of solidarity.

  8. 5. Institutional commitment: Adopts laws and political processes that mandate sustainability. Its economic system and education system support sustainable behavior.

  9. Sustainable development requires choices based on values. Environmental, economic, and social viewpoints impact the definition. • Social viewpoints are shaped by our culture, values, attitudes and beliefs.

  10. But where did this all start? When did it become an ‘issue’ in Canada? • Assignment #1 – Western Movement involving Environmental Science • Handout… Computer based. • It’s great that we all want to ‘save’ the environment but not everyone shares the same viewpoint. Everyone has their own values and attitudes that help shape the viewpoint they believe in. • However, we all need to work together within our viewpoints in order to be successful in creating more sustainable communities.

  11. Everyone has a different World View • Canada and Spain: The Turbot War is an example of a tragedy of the commons (the overuse or degradation of free resources – as no one owns the resources… creates ocean pollution, air pollution) • Canada and Spain were on the brink of war (1995) because of differing views about declining fish stocks in international waters (Greenland halibut, known as the Greenland turbot). • Spain continued to fish after a turbot moratorium had been declared – obviously, different views from Canada and Spain on the harvesting of fish with declining numbers. • Canada was worried what happened to the North Atlantic Cod was going to happen to the Greenland turbo.

  12. What are our Worldviews? • People continuously disagree about how serious our environmental problems are and what we should do about them. • These are called environmental worldviews: • How people think the world works; • What they believe their role in it should be; • And what they believe is right and wrong in terms of environmental ethics.

  13. Worldviews? • Self- and human-centered • Biosphere- or Earth- centered.

  14. Stewardship - Ethical responsibility to be caring and responsible managers

  15. Portfolio Work • For the next 30 minutes read page 666-671 (the top of the left column to the end of this section). • Then answer the question in your portfolio regarding your worldview and the one summarizing the different worldviews.

  16. Environmental impact Assessments • What is an Environmental Impact Assessment ? • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the possible impact—positive or negative—that a proposed project may have on the environment, together consisting of the natural, social and economic aspects. • The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts when deciding whether to proceed with a project – if it can affect the environment should they carry on with it or should they put the precautionary principle into affect? Different answer for different views…

  17. Internationally… • The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) is the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects. • Members of IAIA believe that an impact assessment is a practical tool for helping meet today's needs without compromising the opportunities of future generations. • (http://www.iaia.org/)

  18. Environmental impact assessments are sometimes controversial… there is a debate ensuing based on whether or not the cost to government organizations is worth finding out the environmental implications (which worldview are these people taking?? – economic standpoint!) • After an EIA is completed the precautionary principle may be put into affect and the plans for development may not occur. • http://www.environmental-mainstreaming.org/documents/EM%20Profile%20No%201%20-%20EIA%20(6%20Oct%2009).pdf

  19. Developing Environmentally Sustainable Societies • Page 673: • Select the guideline and the strategy that you feel is the most important at developing more environmentally sustainable societies. • Use the information throughout the book to support your opinion and to come to your own view of how to develop a more sustainable society.

  20. How do we stay sustainable? • We need to live off our natural capital.

  21. Capital = Wealth • Capital is money in the bank (so to speak). • We use what we have in order to survive and to live sustainably. • We are SUPPOSE to live off the ‘interest’ that is made from the resources and not ‘dip into’ the principle. • We are essentially using our resources at a faster rate than what we can sustainably support.

  22. Capital = Wealth • Solar Capital • Creates renewable energy: wind power, hydropower from flowing water, and biomass where solar energy has been harvested and stored (photosynthesis).’ • This energy can be used and put into the economy

  23. Natural Capital • Includes natural resources: air, water, soil, wildlife, minerals, etc. and ecological services • ecological functions of healthy ecosystems which serve all living organisms through purification of air and water, maintenance of biodiversity, decomposition of wastes, soil and vegetation generation and renewal, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, groundwater recharge through wetlands, seed dispersal, greenhouse gas mitigation, and aesthetically pleasing landscapes. • The income that we make off our natural resources can be sustained if we don’t deplete the resources.

  24. Natural Capital: Resources and Services • Figure 1-2: • Page 3

  25. What do we need to do? • We MUST protect our solar and natural capital and live off the resources they provide – not deplete them • One view is we must live sustainably by eliminating waste and discontinuing the depletion and degradation of resources. • Another view is that man can overcome these problems with ingenuity, economic growth, and technology.

  26. How do we make sure we do not over deplete our resources? • We need to be concerned about OUR carrying capacity. • Carrying capacity refers to the maximum number of organisms that can be maintained in an area without degrading the environment. • Sound like sustainability??

  27. Sustainability is connected to Carrying Capacity • A sustainable population of wildlife (or human population) will not overwhelm or put pressure on the carrying capacity of the environment in which they live. • An environmentally sustainable society meets the needs of the people • Air, shelter, and other basic resources without compromising the ability of future generations.

  28. What about the Human Population? • At the end of last year the Earth reached a population of 7,000,000,000 people. • Although the population growth has slowed it is still growing at a rate of 1.17% 6.8 Billion = 80 million/year; 218,000 people/day; 9,100 people/hour At this rate, it would take 12 days to repopulate the Maritimes!!!

  29. Human Growth and Carrying Capacity • Human population growth continues to be more rapid than the Earth can support by about 208,000 people per day. • With more people come more problems • Increased life expectancy • Food and Shelter • Pollution • Economic strain

  30. Around the World… • The global life expectancy has doubled since 1950, but life expectancy is 11 years less in developing countries. • Infant mortality rates have halved since 1955, but they are 8 times higher in developing countries. • Food production is still ahead of population growth, but future food production may become limited by harmful agricultural effects. • The number of people living in poverty has deceased but half of the world’s population is living on less than $4.00 a day!!!

  31. What do we need to support our growing population? Resources

  32. Resources • A resource is anything obtained from the environment to meet our needs. • Food, water, and manufactured goods are examples of resources. • Natural resources are classified as being either perpetual, renewable or non-renewable: • Perpetual: renewed continuously (solar, hydro) • Renewable: replenished through a natural process (forests and grasslands) • Nonrenewable: Cannot be replaced in our lifetime.

  33. To be Sustainable • We must not use resources faster than they are replenished – we will run out! • We must harvest resources by taking a sustainable yield: • The highest rate of use without degrading or depleting the resource. If we do not do this environmental degradation will occur. • NOW LET’S LOOK AT THE LAWS THAT CAN MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE ENVIRONMENT!!!

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