Introduction to Environmental Science. Introduction to Environmnetal Science. How do you define “environment”?. Introduction to Environmental Science. Environment – Everything around us, living and nonliving, natural and man-made
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Introduction to Environmnetal Science How do you define “environment”?
Introduction to Environmental Science • Environment – • Everything around us, living and nonliving, natural and man-made • Includes the relationships between these components of the environment
What is Environmental Science? Definition of environmental science: the interdisciplinary study of (1) how the earth works, (2) how we interact with the earth, and (3) how to deal with environmental problems Let’s break that down…
Environmental Science is a broad, interdisciplinary field ES includes many fields of study, including the natural sciences and the social sciences Definition of Environmental Science
Definition of Environmental Science • how the earth works How do the four spheres of our planet function naturally to maintain a balance? • atmosphere • biosphere • lithosphere • hydrosphere
Definition of Environmental Science • how we interact with the earth How do we upset the natural balance? We use resources We produce waste
Definition of Environmental Science (3) how to deal with environmental problems To reduce or eliminate our unbalancing effect: Decision making Problem solving
Why study Environmental Science? Rapid changes in earth’s environment due to human activities can be traced to two “revolutions” Can you name them?
Agricultural Revolution Gradual move from nomadic lifestyle of hunter-gatherers to the farming of domesticated animals and plants Started about 10,000 years ago Led to human population explosion Can you explain why???
Industrial Revolution Development of machines to do manual/animal labor Led to use of non-renewable energy sources (fossil fuels) that disrupt the balance of our ecosystems (started in mid-1700’s – recent!)
The Human Population Over Time:Locate agricultural and industrial revolutions…. Yr. each billion was reached 2015* 1999 1987 1974 1960 1930 1880 * projected
Scale of Environmental Problems Environmental problems are typically categorized by the affected population. • Global problems, like global warming and the hole in the ozone layer affect the entire world population. • Local problems, such as deforestation or pollution, can occur on a local scale
Affluenza - unsustainable addiction to overconsumption and materialism exhibited in the lifestyles of affluent consumers in the United States and other developed countries
Earth-a closed system, meaning materials do not enter or leave, only energy does Damage that occurs stays in the system (Figure 2, p. 536) “Spaceship Earth”
Ecological Footprint This is one way to measure our impact on the environment globally. What is an ecological footprint? • the environmental impact of a person or population • amount of biologically productive land + water needed for raw materials and to dispose/recycle waste Overshoot: humans have surpassed the Earth’s capacity
10 Major Problems Facing Earth’s Environment (from Collapse by Jared Diamond) • Destruction of natural habitat • Loss of biodiversity • Soil damage and erosion • Use of fossil fuels as our main energy source • Overuse of freshwater resources
10 Major Problems Facing Earth’s Environment • Release of toxic materials • Introduction of “alien” species • Release of harmful gases into atmosphere • Human population growth • Increasing standard of living
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? Easter Island is a relatively small, isolated Pacific island on which there are hundreds of large stone sculptures, indicating that a complex society once lived there Reference on Easter Island, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? When European explorers arrived in the 1700’s they found a mostly barren landscape, with no trees over 10 feet tall, yet there were hundreds of toppled statues all over the island. The few people living on the island had no horses or oxen, were using grass to build fires and lived a primitive lifestyle.
The mystery: How did the Easter Islanders build and erect the statues, why did they do it and what happened to the civilization that accomplished this?
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? Evidence has been pieced together to provide the following explanation: The island was settled by Polynesians from other islands around 400 CE. At that time there were trees, including palms, on the island as shown by pollen studies. There is evidence that land and sea birds were abundant. The human population grew as high as 30,000 as the islanders harvested dolphins and fish for food using wooden canoes. They also ate native island birds and rats. Farms were started to provide more food.
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? Like other Polynesian cultures, society was divided into chiefs and commoners, which were established into clans. On Easter Island, there was collaboration between the clans, but also competition that resulted in building the large stone heads using rock from an island quarry and moving them into place on their territory. One theory is that this process required many workers to move them by pulling them along wooden tracks, possibly on a wooden sled. All of this required a huge expenditure of resources to support the structures and feeding the workers. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=easter+island&view=detail&mid=1040FBF74FAFE3D5A6581040FBF74FAFE3D5A658&first=0
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? Eventually, the island was completely deforested, leading to local extinction of many species on which the islanders depended, as well as the loss of the raw materials to sustain their standard of living. Deforestation also led to soil erosion and a decrease in crop yield from farms. Climate change may have contributed to deforestation.
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? By 1680, civil war replaced the organized clans. People survived as best they could, raising more domesticated chickens for food. The statues that had once been erected as a sign of superiority between clans were then toppled over by rival clans, and remained as evidence of the societal collapse when the Europeans arrived.
A tragic metaphor for “Spaceship Earth” ? Is this a small scale model of what could happen to our planet? Similarities: overexploitation of resources in a fragile, closed system, with no where to escape, no place to get more resources
The Good News Jared Diamond writes in Collapse, “While we do face big risks, the most serious ones are not ones beyond our control, …. Because we are the cause of our environmental problems, we are the ones in control of them, and we can choose or not choose to stop causing them and start solving them.”
Summary What’s the situation? • We depend completely on the environment for survival • We are experiencing increased wealth, health, mobility, leisure time • Humans change the environment, often in ways not fully understood – unintended consequences • Natural systems have been degraded i.e., pollution, erosion and species extinction • Environmental changes threaten long-term health and survival