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Environmental science

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Environmental science

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Environmental science

  1. 1. EnvironmentalEnvironmental ScienceScience Welcome to SVN 3E!Welcome to SVN 3E!
  2. 2. What is EnvironmentalWhat is Environmental Science?Science? The study of how humans interact withThe study of how humans interact with their environmenttheir environment Our environment is everything that surrounds us, both natural and man- made.
  3. 3. Environment: the totalEnvironment: the total of our surroundingsof our surroundings • All the things around us with whichAll the things around us with which we interact:we interact: • Living thingsLiving things • Animals, plants, forests, fungi, etc.Animals, plants, forests, fungi, etc. • Nonliving thingsNonliving things • Continents, oceans, clouds, soil, rocksContinents, oceans, clouds, soil, rocks • Our built environmentOur built environment • Buildings, human-created living centersBuildings, human-created living centers • Social relationships and institutionsSocial relationships and institutions
  4. 4. Natural resources: vital toNatural resources: vital to human survivalhuman survival  Renewable resourcesRenewable resources::  Perpetually available: sunlight, wind, wave energyPerpetually available: sunlight, wind, wave energy  Renew themselves over short periods: timber, water, soilRenew themselves over short periods: timber, water, soil  These can be destroyedThese can be destroyed  Nonrenewable resourcesNonrenewable resources: can be depleted: can be depleted  Oil, coal, mineralsOil, coal, minerals Natural resources = substances and energy sources needed for survival
  5. 5.  “…“…the earth enables our people to survive,the earth enables our people to survive, the environment must be respected andthe environment must be respected and maintained. As long as the earth remainsmaintained. As long as the earth remains healthy, the people remain healthy.” (healthy, the people remain healthy.” (LongLong and Fox, 1996)and Fox, 1996)
  6. 6. Global humanGlobal human population growthpopulation growth  More than 6.7 billionMore than 6.7 billion humanshumans  Why so many humans?Why so many humans?  Agricultural revolutionAgricultural revolution  Stable food suppliesStable food supplies  Industrial revolutionIndustrial revolution  Urbanized societyUrbanized society powered by fossil fuelspowered by fossil fuels  Sanitation and medicinesSanitation and medicines  More foodMore food
  7. 7.  Human population growthHuman population growth exacerbates all environmentalexacerbates all environmental problemsproblems  The growth rate has slowed…butThe growth rate has slowed…but we still add more than 200,000we still add more than 200,000 people to the planet each daypeople to the planet each day WeWe depend completely on thedepend completely on the environment for survivalenvironment for survival  Life has become more pleasantLife has become more pleasant for us so far (Increased wealth,for us so far (Increased wealth, health, mobility, leisure time)health, mobility, leisure time)  But…natural systems have beenBut…natural systems have been degraded and environmentaldegraded and environmental changes threaten long-termchanges threaten long-term health and survivalhealth and survival
  8. 8. BrainstormBrainstorm  With your partner/group, brainstorm atWith your partner/group, brainstorm at least 10 ways in which destruction to theleast 10 ways in which destruction to the environment and depletion of resourcesenvironment and depletion of resources can affect our overall well being as acan affect our overall well being as a populationpopulation
  9. 9. Environmental science:Environmental science: how does the naturalhow does the natural world work?world work?EnvironmentEnvironment  impactsimpacts  HumansHumans • It has an applied goal:It has an applied goal: developing solutions todeveloping solutions to environmental problemsenvironmental problems  An interdisciplinary fieldAn interdisciplinary field Natural sciences:Natural sciences: information about the worldinformation about the world Social sciences: valuesSocial sciences: values and human behavior,and human behavior, politics, economy, etc.politics, economy, etc.
  10. 10. What is anWhat is an “environmental“environmental problem”?problem”? The perception of whatThe perception of what constitutes a problem variesconstitutes a problem varies between individuals andbetween individuals and societiessocieties  Ex.: DDT, a pesticideEx.: DDT, a pesticide  In developing countries:In developing countries: welcome because it killswelcome because it kills malaria-carrying mosquitoesmalaria-carrying mosquitoes  In developed countries: notIn developed countries: not welcome, due to health riskswelcome, due to health risks
  11. 11. Environmental science isEnvironmental science is not environmentalismnot environmentalism •Environmental scienceEnvironmental science • The pursuit of knowledgeThe pursuit of knowledge about the natural worldabout the natural world • Scientists try to remainScientists try to remain objectiveobjective •EnvironmentalismEnvironmentalism • A social movementA social movement dedicated to protecting thededicated to protecting the natural worldnatural world
  12. 12. The “ecologicalThe “ecological footprint”footprint” The environmental impact ofThe environmental impact of a person or populationa person or population  Amount of biologicallyAmount of biologically productive land + waterproductive land + water for raw materials and tofor raw materials and to dispose/recycle wastedispose/recycle waste  OvershootOvershoot: humans have: humans have surpassed the Earth’ssurpassed the Earth’s capacitycapacity We are using 30% more of the planet’s resources than are available on a sustainable basis!
  13. 13. Ecological footprintsEcological footprints are not all equalare not all equal  The ecologicalThe ecological footprints of countriesfootprints of countries vary greatlyvary greatly  The U.S. footprint isThe U.S. footprint is almost 5 times greateralmost 5 times greater than the world’sthan the world’s averageaverage  Developing countriesDeveloping countries have much smallerhave much smaller footprints thanfootprints than developed countriesdeveloped countries
  14. 14. What are theWhat are the challenges we face?challenges we face?  What are the environmental issues weWhat are the environmental issues we are facing today?are facing today?  Come up with at least 10!Come up with at least 10!
  15. 15. We face challenges inWe face challenges in agricultureagriculture• Expanded food production led toExpanded food production led to increased population andincreased population and consumptionconsumption • It’s one of humanity’s greatestIt’s one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but at an enormousachievements, but at an enormous environmental costenvironmental cost • Nearly half of the planet’s landNearly half of the planet’s land surface is used for agriculturesurface is used for agriculture • Chemical fertilizersChemical fertilizers • PesticidesPesticides • ErosionErosion • Changed natural systemsChanged natural systems
  16. 16. We face challenges inWe face challenges in pollutionpollution • Waste products and artificial chemicalsWaste products and artificial chemicals used in farms, industries, andused in farms, industries, and householdshouseholds Each year, millions of people die fromEach year, millions of people die from pollutionpollution
  17. 17. We face challenges inWe face challenges in climateclimate• Scientists have firmly concluded that humansScientists have firmly concluded that humans are changing the composition of theare changing the composition of the atmosphereatmosphere • The Earth’s surface is warmingThe Earth’s surface is warming • Melting glaciersMelting glaciers • Rising sea levelsRising sea levels • Impacted wildlife and cropsImpacted wildlife and crops • Increasingly destructive weatherIncreasingly destructive weather Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxideSince the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen by 37%, to the highest level inconcentrations have risen by 37%, to the highest level in 650,000 years650,000 years
  18. 18. We face challenges inWe face challenges in biodiversitybiodiversity• Human actions have driven many speciesHuman actions have driven many species extinct, and biodiversity is decliningextinct, and biodiversity is declining dramaticallydramatically Biodiversity loss may be our biggest environmental problem; once a species is extinct, it is gone forever
  19. 19. Our energy choices willOur energy choices will affect our futureaffect our future • The lives we live today are dueThe lives we live today are due to fossil fuelsto fossil fuels • MachinesMachines • ChemicalsChemicals • TransportationTransportation • ProductsProducts • Fossil fuels are a one-time bonanza;Fossil fuels are a one-time bonanza; supplies will certainly declinesupplies will certainly decline We have used up ½ of the world’s oilWe have used up ½ of the world’s oil supplies; how will we handle this imminentsupplies; how will we handle this imminent fossil fuel shortage?fossil fuel shortage?
  20. 20. Sustainable solutionsSustainable solutions existexist We must develop solutions that protect both ourWe must develop solutions that protect both our quality of life and the environmentquality of life and the environment  Organic agricultureOrganic agriculture  TechnologyTechnology  Reduces pollutionReduces pollution  BiodiversityBiodiversity  Protect speciesProtect species  Waste disposalWaste disposal  RecyclingRecycling  Alternative fuelsAlternative fuels
  21. 21. Are things getting better orAre things getting better or worse?worse? • Many people think environmentalMany people think environmental conditions are betterconditions are better ((Human ingenuity willHuman ingenuity will solve any problem)solve any problem) • Some think things are much worse in theSome think things are much worse in the world (predict doom and disaster)world (predict doom and disaster) • How can you decide who is correct?How can you decide who is correct? • Are the impacts limited to humans, or are otherAre the impacts limited to humans, or are other organisms or systems involved?organisms or systems involved? • Are the proponents thinking in the long or short term?Are the proponents thinking in the long or short term? • Are they considering all costs and benefits?Are they considering all costs and benefits?
  22. 22. Sustainability: a goal for theSustainability: a goal for the futurefuture How can humans live within theHow can humans live within the planet’s means?planet’s means?  SustainabilitySustainability  Leaves future generations with aLeaves future generations with a rich and full Earthrich and full Earth  Conserves the Earth’s naturalConserves the Earth’s natural resourcesresources  Maintains fully functioningMaintains fully functioning ecological systemsecological systems  Sustainable developmentSustainable development:: thethe use of resources to satisfy currentuse of resources to satisfy current needs without compromising futureneeds without compromising future availability of resourcesavailability of resources
  23. 23. Will we develop in a sustainableWill we develop in a sustainable way?way?  TheThe triple bottom linetriple bottom line:: sustainable solutions thatsustainable solutions that meetmeet  Environmental goalsEnvironmental goals  Economic goalsEconomic goals  Social goalsSocial goals  Requires that humans applyRequires that humans apply knowledge from the sciencesknowledge from the sciences toto  Limit environmental impactsLimit environmental impacts  Maintain functioning ecologicalMaintain functioning ecological systemssystems
  24. 24. ConclusionConclusion  Environmental science helps us understand ourEnvironmental science helps us understand our relationship with the environment and informs ourrelationship with the environment and informs our attempts to solve and prevent problems.attempts to solve and prevent problems.  Solving environmental problems can move usSolving environmental problems can move us towards health, longevity, peace and prosperitytowards health, longevity, peace and prosperity  Environmental science can help us find balancedEnvironmental science can help us find balanced solutions to environmental problemssolutions to environmental problems

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