Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability
Study of connections in nature. Environment includes all living and nonliving thing with which an organism interacts. Living = biotic Nonliving = abiotic ES studies how the earth works, our interaction with the earth, and the methods/procedures we use to deal with environmental problems. Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting life support systems for ALL species.
Life depends on natural capital- the natural resources and services that keep life forms alive.
Life depends on solar energy and natural capital. Human activities can degrade natural capital. Environmentally sustainable societies protect natural capital and live off its income. Plan for future generations. http://news.discovery.com/videos/earth- urban-agriculture-blooms.html
1968, biologist Garrett Hardin called the degradation of openly shared resources the tragedy of the commons. http://www.mindbites.com/lesson/6964- tragedy-of-the-commons
Perpetual resource is continuously renewed and expected to last (solar energy). Renewable resource is replenished in days to several hundred years through natural processes (forests, fish populations, freshwater, etc.) Environmental Degradation occurs when the available supply of renewable resources declines (forests cut down faster than growing back, soil erosion, climate change.)
Sustainability of Life depends on: Reliance on solar energy. Protect Biodiversity. Stop interfering with natural Chemical Cycling.
Represents the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to indefinitely supply the people in a particular country or area with renewable resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by such resource use. Large Footprints: United States, European Union. Small Footprints: India and Japan. Footprints can be expressed in number of Earth’s needed to support consumption (3 ½)
Exist in fixed quantities. Exhaustible energy (coal and oil) Metallic Minerals (copper and gold) Nonmetallic Minerals (salt and sand) Sustainable Solution: Reduce, reuse, recycle (order is important) 1. Reduce means to use less of the resource. 2. Reuse means to use resource over and over. (using empty butter tub for leftovers) 3. Recycle means to collect waste materials and process them into new materials.
High Income like United States and Canada Only 18% of world’s population Use 88% of world’s resources Produce 75% of world’s waste Larger Ecological Footprint
Low Income (some are middle-income) like China, India, Nigeria, Haiti. 82% of world’s population. Use 12% of world’s resources.
Point Sources: single, identifiable source (smokestack) Nonpoint Sources: spread out and difficult to identify (lawn runoff puts chemicals into water ways). Prevention vs. Cleanup Prevention reduces or eliminate production of pollutants Cleanup is more expensive and less effective.
4 causes: Population Growth Unsustainable resource use Poverty Excluding environmental cost from prices
Exponential (J-shaped curve) 2009 – 6.8 BILLION people on the planet Estimated to be 9.3 Billion by 2050 http://planetgreen.discovery.com/videos/foc us-earth-too-many-people.html
Basic needs are not met. Basic needs: food, water, shelter, health and education. 1 in 5 live in extreme poverty. Premature death due to malnutrition Inadequate sanitation (waste removal, clean water)
Increase reliance on renewable energy (solar, wind) Protect Biodiversity (endangered species and land protection, reduce pollution) Do not disrupt natural chemical cycles (carbon cycle, water cycle, climate, etc).