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Unit 1: APES. Courtesy of Ann McClung Revised by S. Purser 8-2010. Chapter 1. Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability. Introduction. Environment External conditions that affect living organisms Ecology Study of relationships between living organisms and their environment

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Unit 1: APES

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unit 1 apes

Unit 1: APES

Courtesy of Ann McClung

Revised by S. Purser 8-2010

chapter 1

Chapter 1

Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability



External conditions that affect living organisms


Study of relationships between living organisms and their environment

Environmental Science

Interdisciplinary study that examines the role of humans on the earth

Many different groups of people are concerned about environment! See spotlight p. 3

linear growth
Linear Growth

Quantity increases by a constant amount per unit of time

Ex: 1,3,5,7,9, …

When plotted on a graph, growth of money yields a fairly straight line sloping upward

exponential growth
Exponential Growth

Quantity increases by a fixed percentage - starts off slowly, then grows to enormous numbers

Result is a

J-shaped curve

Humans are the only species growing this way today.

How does this impact our environmental resources?

rule of 70
Rule of 70

How long does it take a population to double?

Resource use

Population size

Rule of 70

70 divided by the percentage growth rate = doubling time in years

Currently, the human population growth rate (world wide) is 1.3%. In what year, do you predict the world population will have doubled?

resources for life
Resources for Life

Capital = wealth

Solar Capital

Energy from the sun (including wind, hydro & biomass)

Provides 99% of the energy used on earth

Earth Capital

Planet’s air, water, soil, wildlife, minerals, natural purification, recycling, pest control,… (natural resources)


The ability of a system to survive and function over a defined period of time

This means living within one’s means - not depleting capital!

If you have $1,000,000 in your bank account…

10% interest

Sustainable living requires spending less than $100,000 per year

The same applies to earth’s natural capital!

two options for survival in the face of a growing population
Two Options for Survival in the Face of a Growing Population
  • Live sustainably by eliminating waste and discontinuing the depletion and degradation of resources.
  • Overcome these problems with ingenuity, economic growth, and technology.
economic growth key terms
Economic Growth - Key Terms

Economic Growth

Increase in the capacity to provide goods and services for people’s use

Throughput of Matter and Energy

Resources used to produce goods and services through an economy – varies with location and products

High throughput = more consumption per person

economic growth key terms1
Economic Growth - Key Terms

Gross National Product – GNP

Measures economic growth in a country

Market value in current dollars of all goods and services produced within and outside of a country by the country’s businesses during one year

Gross Domestic Product – GDP

Market value in current dollars of all goods and services produced only within a country during one year

economic growth key terms2
Economic Growth - Key Terms

More Developed Countries (MDC)

Highly industrialized

Average per capita GNP above $4000

Higher life expectancy

Less Developed Countries (LDC)

Low to moderate industrialization

Average per capita GNP below $4000

(Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia)

economic growth key terms3
Economic Growth - Key Terms


Change from a society that is largely rural, agricultural, illiterate, poor and rapidly growing population


An more socially, economically, and environmentally interconnected world.

Per Capita GNP

GNP divided by the total population

Shows one person’s slice of the economic pie

wealth gap
Wealth Gap

The gap between the rich, middle-income and poor has widened

More than 1 billion people survive on less than one dollar per day

Poverty and Environmental degradation go hand in hand

perpetual renewable resources
Perpetual & Renewable Resources
  • Perpetual – renewed continuously (solar)
  • Renewable(on human scale)– can be replenished rapidly as long as it is used sustainably (forests, grasslands, wild animals, fresh water, fresh air, fertile soil)
tragedy of the commons
Tragedy of the Commons

Common Property Resources

Resources owned by none, but available to all users free of charge

May result in depletion or degradation of the resource

Examples – ocean pollution, deforestation, abuse of national parks, grazelands

Solutions? Limit access, regulations, reduce population, convert public to private ownership


nonrenewable resources
Nonrenewable Resources

Nonrenewable/Exhaustible Resources

Exist in a fixed quantity in the earth’s crust and can be used up – ex. Fossil fuels & minerals


Reduce – ex: product with less packaging

Refuse – don’t buy it at all!


Collecting and reprocessing a resource into new products


Using a resource over and over in the same form – example?

what is your ecological footprint
What is Your Ecological Footprint?

It is YOUR impact on the environment

  • The amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply renewable resources and absorb waste for each YOU!
  • Currently, each person’s ecological footprint is 20% greater than can be sustained indefinitely.
  • Result? polluted air and water, waste overload, poorer health, less biodiversity, etc.
  • We need four more planet Earths to meet the consumption levels of the U.S.

Take the quiz! Ecological Footprint


Any addition to air, water, soil, or food that threatens the health, survival, or activities of humans or other living organisms

May be added by human activity OR natural causes

point source pollutants
Point Source Pollutants

From a single, identifiable source

Smokestack of a power plant

Drainpipe of a meat-packing plant

Exhaust pipe of an automobile

non point source pollutants
Non-point Source Pollutants

Dispersed and often difficult to identify sources

Runoff of fertilizers and pesticides

Storm Drains (#1 source of oil spills in oceans)

issues of concern with pollutants
Issues of Concern with Pollutants

Chemical Nature

How active and harmful it is to living organisms


Amount per unit volume or weight of air, water, soil or body weight


Time it stays in the air, water, soil or body

solutions prevent it
Solutions: Prevent it!

Input Pollution Control

Slows or eliminates the production of pollutants

often by switching to less harmful chemicals or processes

solutions clean it up
Solutions: Clean it up!

Output Pollution Cleanup

Involves cleaning up pollutants after they have been released

Most expensive and time consuming

causes of environmental problems
Causes of Environmental Problems

Developing Countries

  • increasing population
  • poverty
  • exploitation of resources for survival
  • Lack of education
  • Disease/poor health care

Developed countries

  • High per capita resource use & resulting pollution and environmental degradation
  • Technology  pollution
  • NOTE: affluence can also lead to environmental improvements!
major environmental problems
Major Environmental Problems

Biodiversity Depletion

Air Pollution

Water Pollution

Waste Production

Food Supply Problems

See fig 1-9, p. 12

model of environmental impact
Model of Environmental Impact

Population (P)


Consumption per person (A)


Technological impact per unit consumption (T)


Environmental impact of population

P x A x T = I

See Fig 1-11, p. 13

hunter gatherers

Had only three energy sources:

Sunlight in captured plants


Their own muscle power

Very little impact on environment

agricultural revolution
Agricultural Revolution

Agricultural Revolution

Cultural shift that began in several regions of the world

Involved a gradual move from a lifestyle based on nomadic hunting


Planting a mixture of food crops and tree crops

agricultural revolution1
Agricultural Revolution


Cutting down trees and other vegetation and then burning the underbrush to clear small patches of land

Subsistence Farming

Family grew only enough food to feed itself.

environmental worldviews
Environmental Worldviews

How people think the world works

What they think their role in the world should be

What they see as right and wrong environmental behavior (environmental ethics)

planetary management worldview
Planetary Management Worldview

Increasingly common during the past 50 years.

We are the planet’s most important species

We are in charge of the rest of nature

planetary management worldview1
Planetary Management Worldview

There is always more

All economic growth is good

Potential for economic growth is limitless

Our success depends on how well we manage earth’s system for our benefit

earth wisdom worldview
Earth-Wisdom Worldview

Nature exists for all of the earth’s species, not just for us

There is not always more

Not all forms of economic growth is beneficial to the environment

Our success depends on learning to cooperate with one another and with the earth

working with the earth
Working with the Earth

Earth Wisdom

Learning as much as we can about how the earth sustains itself

Adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions

Integrating such lessons from nature into the ways we think and act

feedback loops
Feedback Loops

A feedback loop occurs when an output of a system is fed back as an input

Two kinds of feedback loops



Positive or Negative?

feedback loops1
Feedback Loops

Positive loops are runaway cycles where a change in a certain direction causes further change in the same direction

Melting of permafrost will release methane which will accelerate global warming

Negative loops help to maintain stability in a system

Ex. Predator/Prey relationships help to maintain balance in populations… OR… blood sugar/insulin

synergy vs chaos
Synergy vs Chaos

Synergy occurs when two or more processes interact so the combined effect is greater than the sum of the separate effects

Chaos occurs in a system when there is no pattern and it never repeats itself

Noise versus Music