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BI 105A Environmental Biology. Professor Jill Nissen Montgomery College Fall 2006. Chapter 2. Environmental Laws, Economics, and Ethics. The History of U.S. Conservation and Environmental Movements . 1607 - First permanent English Colony in Jamestown VA

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bi 105a environmental biology

BI 105AEnvironmental Biology

Professor Jill Nissen

Montgomery College

Fall 2006

chapter 2

Chapter 2

Environmental Laws, Economics, and Ethics

the history of u s conservation and environmental movements
The History of U.S. Conservation and Environmental Movements

1607 - First permanent English Colony in Jamestown VA

The first 2 centuries were a time of widespread destruction

In the 1800’s, many US Naturalists voiced concerns about conserving natural resources

1872 – First National park established (Yellowstone National Park)

1875 – Citizens formed the American Forestry Association

the history of u s conservation and environmental movements1
The History of U.S. Conservation and Environmental Movements

1906 – Congress passed the Antiquities Act, giving the president power to set aside National Monuments

1916 – Congress created the National Park Service

In the 1930’s, the American Dust Bowl alerted the US citizens about the need for soil conservation

In the 1960’s, the media increased coverage of environmental incidents

the history of u s conservation and environmental movements2
The History of U.S. Conservation and Environmental Movements

1970 – First nationally celebrated Earth Day

1970 – Environmental Protection Agency formed

1970 – National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) signed into law

Since 1970, Congress has passed almost 40 major environmental laws (Table 2.1)

john james audubon
John James Audubon
  • His lifelike paintings of birds and other animals aroused public interest in wildlife
henry david thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
  • Conducted a two-year experiment on simple living in harmony with nature
  • shared his experiences in his book, Walden
theodore roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
  • 26th president of the US
  • Roosevelt was the first American president to consider the long-term negative effects of humans on the planet.
  • Roosevelt urged congress to establish the US Forest Service, and he appointed Gifford Pinchot to head the service.
  • Roosevelt set aside more land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined



john muir
John Muir
  • Instrumental in helping save the Yosemite Valley
  • Founder of the Sierra Club
utilitarian conservationists and biocentric preservationists
Utilitarian Conservationists and Biocentric Preservationists
  • Different worldviews
    • Theodore Roosevelt – utilitarian conservationist
      • Natural resources should be managed for practical purposes
    • John Muir – biocentric preservationist
      • Nature should be protected because all life forms deserve respect and consideration
franklin d roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Franklin Roosevelt established the CCC and SCS in the 1930’s
rachel carson
Rachel Carson
  • Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, raising public awareness of the dangers of pesticides
  • Provides the basis for developing environmental impact statements (EISs)
  • Each EIS must include:
    • The nature of the proposal and why it is needed
    • Short and long-term environmental impacts of the proposal
    • Alternatives to the proposal that could lessen the adverse effects
  • The NEPA revolutionized environmental protection in the U.S.
full cost accounting
Full-Cost Accounting
  • Addressing environmental problems should begin with full-cost accounting:
    • The process of evaluating and presenting to decision makers the relative benefits and costs of various alternatives
economics and the environment
Economics and the Environment

Economics is the study of how people use their limited resources to try to satisfy their unlimited wants

Economics depends on the natural environment to provide ecosystem resources and services

external cost
External Cost
  • internal cost: direct cost paid by the producer & the buyer of an economic good;
  • external cost: harmful side effect of producing & consuming a product that is not included in the market price of that product;
  • Examples:
    • health & property costs of pollution
    • costs of lost farmland & wildlands
    • costs of lost ecosystem function (e.g., watershed loss leading to more floods)
internalizing external costs
Internalizing External Costs
  • involves including harmful costs in the price of a good (e.g., including cost of pollution prevention or cleanup);
  • typically requires government action (regulation, taxes…).
how much pollution is acceptable
How much pollution is acceptable?
  • Marginal cost of pollution- the greater the amount of pollution, the greater the social cost
  • Marginal cost of pollution abatement – the greater the amount of pollution, the lower the cost to clean it up per unit
cost benefit diagram
Cost-Benefit Diagram
  • The optimum amount of pollution is the point at which the 2 lines intersect
economic strategies for pollution control
Economic Strategies for Pollution Control
  • Command and Control – government sets legal limits on the amount of pollution and then enforces those limits
  • Incentive-based regulation
    • Emissions Charge – taxes polluters
    • Waste-discharge permits – the holder may purchase ($) permits that allow a given amount of pollution
environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics

What is the moral basis of environmental responsibility, and how far does this responsibility extend?

worldviews perspectives based on our values
WorldviewsPerspectives based on our values
  • Western worldview – emphasizes human rights and dominance over nature, unrestricted use of natural resources, increased economic growth and accumulation of wealth
  • Deep ecology worldview – stresses that all life forms have the right to exist, humans have an obligation to protect the environment, reduce human population growth, and rethink our use of technology
what s your worldview

Deep Ecology


What’s Your Worldview?
  • Where would you place yourself along this spectrum of worldviews?
review objectives
Review Objectives
  • A Brief Environmental History of the United States• Briefly outline the environmental history of the United States.• Describe the environmental contributions of the following people: John James Audobon, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Rachel Carson.• Distinguish between utilitarian conservationists and biocentric preservationists
  • U.S. Environmental Legislation• Explain why the National Environmental Policy Act is the cornerstone of U.S. environmental law.• Relate how environmental impact statements provide such powerful protection of the environment.• Define full-cost accounting.
  • Economics and the Environment• Explain how economics is related to natural capital, and include sources and sinks in your explanation.• Distinguish among the following economic terms: marginal cost of pollution, marginal cost of pollution abatement, optimum amount of pollution.• Describe various approaches to pollution control, including command and control regulation and incentive-based regulation.
  • Environmental Ethics, Values, and Worldviews• Define environmental ethics.• Define environmental worldview and discuss distinguishing aspects of the Western and deep ecology worldviews.