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Chapter 1 Outline. Introduction to Environmental Science Historical Perspective/Development of Environmental Science Current Conditions A Divided World Sustainable Development Indigenous People Environmental Case Study Hetch Hetchy Valley Dow/UnionCarbide. Introduction.

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Chapter 1 outline

Chapter 1 Outline

  • Introduction to Environmental Science

  • Historical Perspective/Development of Environmental ScienceCurrent Conditions

  • A Divided World

  • Sustainable Development

  • Indigenous People

  • Environmental Case StudyHetch Hetchy ValleyDow/UnionCarbide



  • Humans have always inhabited both the natural world and the social world.

  • Environment:

    • Circumstances or conditions that surround an organism or groups of organisms

    • The complex of social or cultural conditions that affect an individual or community



  • Environmental Science: Systematic study of our environment and our place in it

    • Interdisciplinary -Includes concepts and ideas from multiple fields of study.

    • Integrates the following disciplines

      • Natural Science

      • Social Science

      • Humanities

    • Mission oriented

Environmental science

Environmental Science

Basic history of humans and the environment

Basic History of Humans and the Environment

  • Hunter-Gatherers (10,000 B.C.)

    • Obtain food by collecting plants and hunting wild animals.

    • Effects on the environment were limited.

      • Hunting of some animal species.

      • Picked up and spread plants/seeds to new areas.

Basic history of humans and the environment1

Basic History of Humans and the Environment

  • Agricultural Revolution (6000-7000 B.C.)

    • Humans first developed the process of breeding, growing, and harvesting plants for food as well as animal domestication.

    • Effects on the environment:

      • Human population grew more quickly

      • Natural habitats (grasslands, forests) replaced by farmland and villages.

      • New breeds of animals and plants were created.

Basic history of humans and the environment2

Basic History of Humans and the Environment

  • Industrial Revolution (1800s)

    • Shift in the source of energy to fossil fuels

    • Effects on the environment:

      • More efficient farming

      • Faster human population growth

      • Increased burning of fossil fuels.

      • Introduced synthetic plastics, fertilizers, pesticides.

      • Higher amounts of pollution.

Environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics

  • Environmental ethics is the discipline that studies the moral relationship of human beings to the environment.

    • What is the value of the environment?

    • What moral responsibility do we have?

    • Which needs should be given the highest priority in our decision making?

  • Different types of ethics have emerged in human culture in modern history.

Historical perspective

Historical Perspective

  • Distinct Stages

    • Anthropocentric - means “human-centered”.

    • Pragmatic Resource Conservation

    • Moral and Aesthetic Nature Preservation

    • Concern about Health and Ecological Damage

    • Global Environmental Citizenship

      Parts of each stage persist today in the environmental movement.



  • This set of ethics protects and promotes of human interests or well-being at the expense of all other factors.

  • Often places an emphasis on short-term benefits while disregarding long-term consequences.

Pragmatic resource conservation

Pragmatic Resource Conservation

  • George Perkins Marsh - Man and Nature published in 1864Influenced Theodore Roosevelt and his conservation advisor, Gifford Pinchot. Pragmatic Utilitarian Conservation

  • Multiple Use Policies of US Forest Service

  • “Greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time”

Ethical and aesthetic nature preservation

Ethical and Aesthetic Nature Preservation

  • John Muir - President Sierra Club

    • Nature deserves to exist for its own sake - regardless of degree of usefulness to humans. (Biocentric Preservation)

Modern environmental movement

Modern Environmental Movement

  • Industrial explosion of WW II added new concerns to the environmental agenda.

    • Rachel Carson - Silent Spring (1962) Added a whole new dimension to environmental awareness (unintended consequences).

    • Barry Commoner

    • Wangari Maathai-won Nobel Peace Prize for environmental action (2004).

Environmental agenda expands

Environmental Agenda Expands

  • The environmental agenda expanded in the 1960’s and 70’s to include:

    • Human population growth

    • Atomic weapons testing

    • Fossil fuel issues

    • Recycling

    • Air and water pollution

    • Wilderness protection

Global interconnections

Global Interconnections

  • Increased technology and ease of travel has greatly expanded international communications.

    • Daily events now reported worldwide instead of locally or regionally leads to Global Environmentalism

      • What is the single greatest environmental problem facing the world today?

Current conditions

Current Conditions

  • Human Population > 7 Billion

    • Water quantity and quality issues may be the most critical issues in the 21st century.

    • Food is inequitably distributed across the globe and 2/3 of agricultural lands show signs of degradation.

    • Fossil fuel reserves are diminishing and the burning of fossil fuels causes pollution and global warming, allegedly.

    • Air quality has worsened in many areas, especially southern Asia and India.

    • Loss of biodiversity at a rapid rate.

Signs of hope

Signs of Hope

  • Progress has been made on many fronts.

    • Population has stabilized in most industrialized countries.

    • Incidence of life-threatening diseases has been reduced in most countries.

    • Deforestation has slowed and habitat protection has increased in some areas.

    • Progress is being made in transition to renewable energy sources.

    • Democracy is spreading, which allows decision making by local people who know the land rather than by a centralized bureaucracy.

The demographic divide developed and developing nations

The Demographic Divide:Developed and Developing Nations

Developed and developing countries

Developed and Developing Countries

  • Environmental issues faced by different countries varies depending on their economic status.

  • Developed – Higher incomes, longer life span, lower growth rate.

    • Ex: United States, Japan, France, U.K.

Developing and developed countries

Developing and Developed Countries

  • Developing – Have lower incomes, shorter life span, rapid population growth.

    • Ex: India, Afghanistan, most of sub-Saharan Africa

A divided world

A Divided World

  • World Bank estimates more than 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty earning < $1 (U.S.) per day.

  • Poor are often both victims and agents of environmental degradation. They are trying to meet their present survival needs at the cost of long term sustainability.

  • Cycle of poverty continues over generations as people who are malnourished and ill cannot work productively and raise healthy children.

A divided world1

A Divided World

  • About 1/5 of the world’s population lives in countries with per capita income > $25,000 per year (U.S.). The other 4/5 lives in middle or low income countries.

  • Gap between rich and poor continues to increase.

  • The gap affects many quality of life indicators.

Quality of life indicators

Quality of Life Indicators

Population and consumption

Population and Consumption

  • Developing countries tend to have severe overpopulation. This leads to:

    • Deforestation

    • Bare soil

    • Native animals driven to extinction

    • Malnutrition, starvation, disease

  • About 80% of the world’s population falls in this category

    • Only use 25% of the world’s resources

Population and consumption1

Population and Consumption

  • Developed countries, while smaller in size and growth, consume resources at a greater rate.

  • About 20% of the world’s population uses 75% of its resources.

Developing and developed countries1

Developing and Developed Countries

Source: Holt Environmental Science, Arms, 2007

Is there enough for everyone

Is There Enough for Everyone?

  • Rich nations consume an inordinate share of the world’s resources and produce an unsustainable amount of pollution.

  • The U.S. makes up 4.6% of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of all oil production and generates 50% of all toxic wastes in the world.

  • If all the residents of China were to match American consumption, it would take four extra planet Earths to support them using current technology.

Tragedy of the commons

Tragedy of the Commons

  • An ecologist named Garrett Hardin wrote an essay describing the source of environmental problems as a conflict:

    • Short-term interests of individuals


      Long-term interests of civilization and the Earth itself

Tragedy of the commons1

Tragedy of the Commons

  • Each villager owns a small herd of sheep.

  • The only place for the sheep to graze is a commons in the center of the village.

  • A commons is an area that belongs to an entire village.

    • Likely outcome: Villagers obtain as many sheep as possible, allow to graze in the commons. Result?

Chapter 1 outline

  • What if the commons was instead divided into sections that was owned by each villager?

    • Because the land is owned, individuals are much more likely to plan and use it for the long-term.

      “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rental car.”

    • Larry Summers, Chief Economic Advisor to President Obama

Economic progress

Economic Progress

  • Over the past 50 years, the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from $2 trillion to $22 trillion.

  • Since WW II, average real income in developing countries has doubled and life expectancy has increased by 30%.

Economics and the environment

Economics and the Environment

Supply and Demand– The greater the demand for a limited resource, the higher the price.

  • Examples:

    • Increasing price of oil/gasoline

    • Consistently low price of corn in U.S.

Economics and the environment1

Economics and the Environment

  • Cost/Benefit Analysis – Is the cost of doing something worth the price?

    The price paid from fine/clean up vs the potential profit.

Economics and the environment2

Economics and the Environment

  • Risk Analysis – The probability that something will cause injury or death.

    • Ex: Nuclear power

Sustainable development

Sustainable Development

  • “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

    • Benefits must be available to all humans, rather than to a privileged few.

    • Economic growth alone is not enough. Political stability, democracy, and equitable economic distribution are needed to ensure that all benefit.

Sustainable development1

Sustainable Development

Many ecologists view continual growth as impossible in the long run due to limits imposed by non-renewable resources and the capacity of the biosphere to absorb wastes.

Others argue that through the use of technology and social organization, we can manage to meet our needs and provide long-term (but not infinite) growth.

Ecological footprint

Ecological Footprint

  • An ecological footprint is one measurement of a person’s resource use.

    • Includes the amount of space needed to support each person in a nation, including forests, farms, cities, etc.

Indigenous people

Indigenous People

  • Indigenous (native) people are often the least powerful, most neglected people in the world.

    • At least half the world’s 6,000 distinct languages are dying.

    • Indigenous homelands may harbor vast percentage of world’s biodiversity.

    • Recognizing native land rights and political rights may often be a solid ecological safeguard as indigenous people have a rich knowledge of local habitats.

Yosemite national park

Yosemite National Park

  • Yosemite National Park is a national park directly east of San Francisco that was created in 1890.

Images taken from

San francisco

San Francisco

  • The city of San Francisco experienced a tremendous population boom in the 19th century due to the gold rush.

  • A powerful earthquake struck the city in 1906, followed by a devastating fire.

  • The city’s water pipes were so damaged by the earthquake, that firefighters were not able to tap fire hydrants.

Earthquake of 1906

Earthquake of 1906

  • The economic and structural damage to the city is comparable to that of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.

  • As part of the rebuilding process, the city applied to the federal government to construct a reservoir in the Hetch Hetchy valley of Yosemite National Park.

Hetch hetchy valley

Hetch Hetchy Valley

  • San Francisco city officials wanted to dam the Tolumne river for a clean and dependable long-term water source for a growing city.

  • An act of Congress and President Woodrow Wilson’s approval were needed for the dam and reservoir to be constructed.

Image taken from

Before and after

Before and After

Bhopal and dow chemical

Bhopal and Dow Chemical

  • In December of 1984, a pesticide factory located near the town of Bhopal, India leaked a large amount of toxic chemicals into the air.

  • The chemicals resulted in an immediate death toll of about 3,000 people, with 8,000 more dying of long-term health ailments.

    • A total of 558,125 injuries were reported to the Indian government.

    • No legal settlement was reached with Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical.

Ethics and economics

Ethics and Economics

  • To properly compensate and treat all individuals affected by this disaster, Dow Chemical would have to pay several billion dollars in settlements.

  • Dow Chemical has a yearly profit of over $2 billion, with total assets worth nearly $70 billion.

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