Chapter 1 - Environmental Problems, Their Causes & Sustainability

  • Environmental Science is a Study of Connections in Nature

  • Environment:
    •  everything around us
    • "the environment is everything that isn't me"
  • Environmental Science:
    • interdisciplinary science connecting information and ideas from
      • Natural sciences
      • Social sciences
      • Humanities

 

  • Environmental Science is a Study of Connections in Nature
    • How nature works
    • How the environment affects us
    • How we affect the environment
    • How to deal with environmental problems
    • How to live more sustainably
  • Three Scientific Principles of Sustainability
    • Reliance on solar energy
    • Biodiversity
    • Chemical cycling
  • Sustainability Has Certain Key Components:
  • Some Resources Are Renewable and Some are Not
  • Resource Reserves
  • Countries Differ in Levels of Unsustainability
    • Economic growth
    • Gross domestic product (GDP)
    • Per capita GDP
    • Economic development
    • More-developed countries
    • Less-developed countries
  • How Are Our Ecological Footprints Affecting the Earth?
    • As our ecological footprint grows, we are depleting and degrading more of the earth's natural capital
    • We are living unsustainably
      • Environmental degradation: wasting, depleting and degrading the earth's natural capital
    • Pollution Comes from a Number of Sources
      • Point sources
      • Nonpoint sources
      • Main types of pollutants
        • Biodegradable
        • Nondegradable
      • Dealing with pollution
        • Pollution cleanup (output pollution control)
        • Pollution prevention (input pollution control)
    • Overexploiting Shared Renewable Resources
      • Three types of property or resource rights
        • Private property
        • Common property (e.g. US govt.)
        • Open access renewable resources (owned by no one, e.g. air)
      • Tragedy of the commons
        • common property and open-access renewable resources degraded from overuse
          • individuals believe that their actions have little impact
        • Solutions:
          • use the shared resource at a sustainable rate by govt regulation
          • move to private ownership. Not practical for resources such as air. Is being done with water in certain locations.

 

 

 

 

Footprint - Accounting for a Small Planet

 

  • Natural Systems Have Tipping Points
    • Ecological tipping point
    • Environmental degradation has time delays between our actions now and the negative effects later
      • Long-term climatic change
      • Over-fishing
      • Species extinction
  • Cultural Changes Have Increased Our Ecological Footprints
    • 12,000 years ago: hunters and gatherers
    • Three major cultural events
      • Agricultural revolution
      • Industrial-medical revolution
      • Information-globalization revolution
    • Current need for a sustainability revolution
  • Why Do We Have Environmental Problems?
    • Major causes of environmental problems are:
      • population growth
      • wasteful and unsustainable resource use
      • poverty
      • exclusion of environmental costs of resource use from the market prices of goods and services
    • Affluence Has Harmful and Beneficial Environmental Effects
      • Harmful environmental impact due to:
        • High levels of consumption
        • High levels of pollution
        • Unnecessary waste of resources
      • Affluence can provide funding for developing technologies to reduce:
        • Pollution
        • Environmental degradation
        • Resource waste
      • Poverty has harmful environmental and health effects
        • Population growth affected
        • Malnutrition
        • Premature death
        • Limited access to adequate sanitation facilities and clean water
        • Harmful Effects of Poverty graphic
      • Prices do not include the value of natural capital
      • Different views about environmental problems and their solutions
        • Environmental ethics:
          • are we the most important beings on the planet?
          • do we have an obligation to see that our activities do not cause other species to disappear?
          • do we have an ethical obligation to pass the natural world on to future generations in a condition that is at least as good as what we inherited?
          • should every person be entitled to equal protection from environmental hazards?
        • Planetary management worldview:
          • we are separate and in charge of nature.
        • Stewardship worldview
          • we should manage the earth for our benefit but in an ethical manner.
        • Environmental wisdom worldview
          • we are part of and dependant on nature and nature exists for all species.
    • What Is an Environmentally Sustainable Society?
      • Living sustainably
      • Environmentally sustainable societies protect natural capital and live off its income
      • Live on natural income of natural capital without diminishing the natural capital
      • Individuals matter
      • Three Big Ideas
        1. Rely more on renewable energy from the sun
        2. Protect biodiversity
        3. Help sustain the earth's chemical cycles