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SD2011 env sci 1


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Lecture slides - University of Bristol's 2011 Sustainable Development unit, environmental science component.

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SD2011 env sci 1

  1. 1. Sustainable Development and the Environment Dr Sarah Lecture slides and notes will be on Blackboard
  2. 2. Environmental Change Key concepts:The Earth SystemSocio-Ecological SystemsCauses, consequences, and contextScales of change (in space and time) Case studies: Pollution and over-consumption (L1) Integrated Environmental Management (L2) Global environmental change(s) (L3)
  3. 3. A systems perspective General characteristics of a system: All systems have structure or organization. All systems function in some way. All systems show some degree of integration (components act together to form an integral whole) Change in one component is "sensed" throughout the system, resulting in regulation.
  4. 4. The Earth System F. Bretherton and colleagues, NASA, 1988
  5. 5. Earth system science = Oceanography, zoology,atmospheric science, botany, geology…
  6. 6. Earth System science explores the interactionsbetween living and non-living parts of the planet Life changes its surroundings. The Gaia Hypothesis – our planet functions as a single organism that maintains the conditions necessary for its survival. James Lovelock
  7. 7. Processes - Biogeochemical cycles water cycle The nitrogen cycle
  8. 8. A major area of concern – the carbon cycle Image from Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
  9. 9. Human life also changes its surroundings, and human activities now have global-scale impacts. We need to understand the world as a socio-ecological systemImage © Gordon Charlton 2004 Image © Shawn Miller 2004 …complex adaptive systems where social and biophysical agents are interacting at multiple temporal and spatial scales (Janssen and Ostrom, 2004)
  10. 10. Sustainability relates to: Society’s ability to cope with natural changes Society’s consumption of natural resources Society’s management of ‘collateral’ environmental damage Human sub- Environmental ‘Three Pillars’ system sub-system of sustainability ?
  11. 11. Securing our Future - UK SD Strategy 2005
  12. 12. PSR (or DSR or DPSIR) Framework - Many configurations - OECD, EEA, Defra, academic• Allows for conceptual links in both directions• Can be applied to multiple scales• Can deal with processes - not just snapshot But it doesn’t point society along the right or ‘good’ direction - It is a framework for tackling problems
  13. 13. Pressure-State-Response Framework D P S IDriving Forces in State Change in Impacts on Pressures Society Environment Society Agriculture Land and Environmental Industry Physical, Resource Use goods & Energy chemical and services Emissions ecological Transport state Human Society Technological Services risks Households S e c to r Environmental Statement of Social P o lic y Policy Objectives Prioritisation Response
  14. 14. Pressure-State-Response FrameworkD P S I Human Environment Society Human Society Environment Response
  15. 15. More people, more affluence, more technology = much more demanding of resources• Plots from Steffen et al., 2003. IGBP.• Read about P-A-T in Ehrlich, P.R. and J.P. Holdren, 1971. Impact of Population Growth. Science 171: 1212-17.
  16. 16. Image from Australian Government Bureau of MeteorologyUndesirable consequences… Perturbed elemental cyclesImage from ORNL
  17. 17. Altered air chemistry Land cover change Growing evidence of changing temperature and Earth System feedbacks
  18. 18. Next two lectures –looking at impacts and responses at local and global scalesFor now – some unsustainability stories
  19. 19. The 1950s Smog Story Smoke and sulphur dioxide fromindustrial sources and domestic coal fires accumulate in moist, still air SO2 dissolves to form concentrated sulphuric acid particles Water vapour Droplet tends to condenses onto absorb more water the fine soot  fog thickens
  20. 20. 4000 deaths in 5 daysEach day:• 1,000 tonnes of smoke particles• 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide• 140 tonnes of hydrochloric acid• 370 tonnes of SO2 were converted into 800 tonnes of sulphuric acid. Image from Met Office
  21. 21. UK Government response: Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968  “smokeless zones”, controls on industrial sources of pollution (tall chimneys for waste gas dispersal). 1997 National Air Quality Strategy set targets for 2005. 30% decrease since 1970 Excess deposition of SO2 in Europe (in tons/km2)European legislation: • controls pollution from industry and now transport • sets health limits for common air pollutants, including SO2, particulate matter, lead and NOx.
  22. 22. Controls:Change fuel - coal and oil desulphurisationChange combustion - pressurised fluidised bedchambers - remove S as fuel burnsChange emissions - flue gas desulphurisation CaCO3 + H2SO4 → CaSO4 + H2O + CO2 limestone gypsum
  23. 23. Data from European Environment Agency, 2000.x1012 g S yr-1 Netherlands policy initiatives have sharply reduced SO2 emissions to the atmosphere Reference shows emissions at 1980 rate corrected for electricity generation
  24. 24. The Water Quality story Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential nutrients for plants.Sources of phosphorus - agricultural fertilizers andpesticides, and wastewater treatment.Sources of nitrogen - fertilizers, intensive agriculture(NH3), wastewater, combustion processes (as NOx),including vehicle engines.
  25. 25. What is the fate of N and P applied to land surface or released into the atmosphere? Rain washes nutrients into streams and rivers Nutrients enhance growth of aquatic plants Algal blooms die back when the nutrients are depletedRotting algae consume all thedissolved oxygen in the water, causing eutrophication and ecosystem damage Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lindloff, River Alliance of Wisconsin.
  26. 26. Quality and the LawImportant legislation affecting water policy (up to 2003)Safeguarding water supplies and their quality for now and the future is a vital task. It is a legal duty not to cause or allow waterpollution, as well as an environmental and social responsibility.The Environmental Protection Act 1990 established statutory provisions for a range of environment protectionpurposes including integrated pollution control for dangerous processes.The Water Resources Act 1991 consolidated previous water legislation in respect of both the quality and quantity ofwater resources.The Water Industry Act 1991 consolidated legislation relating to the supply of water and the provision of sewerageservices.The Environment Act 1995 established the Environment Agency, and introduced measures to enhance protection ofthe environment, including further powers for the prevention and remediation of water pollution.The EC Surface Water Abstraction Directives (75/440/EEC) set quality objectives for the surface watersources from which drinking water is taken.The EC Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC) sets standards aimed at protecting the health of bathers andmaintaining the aesthetic quality of bathing waters.The EC Freshwater Fish (78/659/EEC) and Shellfish Waters Directives (79/923/EEC) are aimedat protecting the health of freshwater fish and shellfish populations, by designating waters in need of protection and settingquality standards for those waters. There is also a directive that aims to protect the health of consumers of shellfish byenforcing bacterial quality standards.The EC Dangerous Substances Directives (76/464/EEC), together with the Water Resources Act 1991,require control over inputs of dangerous substances into water.The EC Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC) is related to the Dangerous Substances Directives and applies togroundwater protection. Groundwater is water held underground in rock formations.The EC Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) sets requirements for the provision ofcollecting systems and the treatment of sewage according to the size of the discharge and the nature of the receiving water.The EC Nitrate Directive (91/676/EEC) requires member states to reduce the nitrate pollution in waters that arisesfrom agricultural inputs.
  27. 27. CSI report, 2005Key policy question:Is eutrophication in European surface waters decreasing? Key message: There has been no general reduction in eutrophication (as measured by chlorophyll-a concentrations) since 1985. Chlorophyll-a concentrations have increased in a few coastal areas and decreased in others.
  28. 28. What are the differences between the smog story and the water story?• Point source pollution • Diffuse source pollution• One major source • Multiple sources• Substitutes for coal • No substitution for N or P• Technology available at • No technological solution reasonable cost • Indirect impact on humans,• Direct and acute impact usually cumulative not on humans acute• Local impact • Often displaced impact
  29. 29. What hope for Water Quality? EU Water Framework DirectiveIt requires all inland and coastal water bodies to reach atleast "good status" by 2015.It promises joined-up science and joined-up governance:• integration of surface/groundwater and quality/quantity.• linking management of water with other policy sectors that have an impact on the water environment.
  30. 30. Stories of Irreversible Changes - use of non-renewable resources Nauru (2,500 miles SW of Honolulu)
  31. 31. Nauru’s phosphate mining started before 1900. For a periodafter it became a republic, in 1968, its per capita income wassecond only to Saudi Arabia’s. 90% of the island surface has been mined. By 2005, virtually all phosphate reserves were depleted.• The economy collapsed in the 1990s… notorious formoney-laundering, now largely dependent on aid.• The island is widely regarded as an environmentalwasteland… (no birds, food and water are imported)• The community has been struggling with weak governanceand reduced wellbeing – rehabilitation of the island is difficult e.g.,; CIA world factbook
  32. 32. Would we be so foolish…? F o s s il f u e ls a n d the H ub b e rt P e a k Non-OPEC, non-FSU production has already peaked.
  33. 33. Carrying capacity = the population level that can be supported, given the life infrastructure present (food, habitat, water and other resources) Carrying Capacity Resources } Population Sustainable (?) development timeA little warning note – this concept needs care in application. Lots of literature explains why…
  34. 34. Carrying capacity … Carrying Capacity Resources Population Too-rapid development time Recall earlier reference to Paul Ehrlich (IPAT) - Donella Meadows -
  35. 35. Carrying Capacity … and Ecological Footprints Carrying Capacity CapacityResources } - Footprint Population +ve or -ve? Sustainable (?) development time see
  36. 36. Copyright 1993 Watterson (Universal Press Syndicate)