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The Mayans Easter Island Mesopotamia Biosphere 2

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  1. Learning from the past • The Mayans • Easter Island • Mesopotamia • Biosphere 2 1.3

  2. WHY IS SUSTAINABILITY AN ISSUE? 1.4

  3. State of the world - social • In 2000: • Global population 6.1 billion, up from 2.5 billion in 1950 • 95% of population growth in developing countries • 1.2 billion in severe poverty (<$1/day) • More than 1 billion people overweight (in the US, 61% adults overweight, 27% obese) • 1.1 billion without access to safe water • 3 million people died of AIDS (cumulative total now almost 22 million) and 58 million had HIV • On average a person was infected with HIV every six seconds • In Botswana, one in three adults was infected with HIV 1.5

  4. State of the world - social United States: • Fordham University ‘index of social health’ 44% lower in 1996 than in 1973, despite stock market highs • Now the world’s largest penal colony (nearly five million men in the US awaiting trial, in prison, on probation or on parole) • There is no cost difference between incarceration and an Ivy League education Australia: • In 1996, 2 million lived below the poverty line • Top 20 percent of households had 44 percent of private income while the bottom 20 percent had just 3 percent • Now one of the most unequal of all developed countries (having slipped from 7th to 15th on the UN Index of Human Development) (continued) 1.6

  5. State of the world - environment • 12% of 9,900 bird species in the world threatened with extinction • Over the last 200 years, 103 bird extinctions have been already documented – rate more than 50 times “background” rates of extinction • 27% of the world’s coral reefs were severely damaged by 2000, compared to only 10% in 1992 • In the last 100 years, Earth has lost over half its wetlands – in South-east Australia this figure is 89% • Aquifers are being depleted worldwide, with water tables in many parts falling by as much as a metre a year 1.7

  6. State of the world - environment • Atmospheric carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) is 30% higher than pre-industrial times and highest in at least 420,000 years • Strong scientific consensus that most warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities • 10% decrease in snow cover since the 1960s • Global average sea level has risen 10-20 cm • IPCC projections - by the year 2100: • globally averaged surface temperature will warm by 1.4 to 5.8ºC (relative to 1990) • global mean sea level will rise by 9 to 88cm (relative to 1990) (continued) 1.8

  7. State of the world - economic • In 2000, foreign debt of developing and former Eastern bloc nations stood at US$2.57 trillion ($2,570,000,000,000) (1999 dollars) • During the 1990’s the economic toll of natural disasters topped US$608 billion, more than the previous four decades combined • Of the US$9 trillion spent every year in the United States, US$2 trillion is wasted 1.9

  8. State of the environment - Australia Between 1996 and 2001: • Additional 500,000 hectares of land became salt affected (bringing total to at least 2.5 million hectares or 5% of our cultivated land • Further 5.7 million hectares identified as having a high potential for developing dryland salinity • Common cause of dryland salinity has been changes to water tables from inappropriate land use 1.10

  9. State of the environment - Australia • Predicted that without significant action, within 20 years Adelaide’s drinking water would fail World Health Organisation standards in two days out of five • Predicted if nothing is done, salinity will cost $1 billion a year by 2100 • Many coastal areas have poor water quality from sediment, resulting from soil erosion. 11.7 million tonnes/sediment/year enter Great Barrier Reef alone. In North Queensland, grazing lands product about 66% of estimated annual sediment to rivers (continued) 1.11

  10. State of the environment - Australia • Air quality generally improved or remained constant • Threatening processes to biodiversity include salinisation, land clearing, fragmentation of ecosystems, exotic organisms and changing hydrological conditions • Australia has 10% of world’s endangered species, second only to the US • Net loss in vegetative cover since 1996 • In 1999, 469,000 hectares of woody vegetation cleared nationally (425,000 ha in Queensland) • Many heritage buildings damaged through inappropriate development • Decline in Indigenous languages (continued) 1.12

  11. Valuing the environment • Wealth is: “something that that has real value in terms of meeting our needs and fulfilling our wants: the natural productive systems of the planet and physical things like factories, homes, farms, stores, actual transportation and communications facilities, as well as the people who work to produce the goods and services that sustain us. Modern money is only a number on a piece of paper or an electronic trace in a computer, that by a social convention gives its holder a claim on that real wealth. In our confusion, we’ve concentrated on the money, to the neglect of those things that actually sustain a good life.” David Korten 1.13

  12. Valuing the environment • ‘Ecosystem services’ include: • photosynthesis • pollination • nurseries for commercial fish species (in mangroves and coral reefs in particular) • regulation of climate • soil production and protection • storage and cycling of essential nutrients • absorption, breakdown and dispersal of organic wastes and pollutants • control of crop and livestock pests through predation • Services provided globally by the environment estimated at least US$36 trillion annually. In Australia, services estimated at $1.3 billion annually 1.14

  13. Measurement of the amount of raw materials consumed in the United States (WW I – World War I, WW II – World War II) Source: Matos and Wagner 1.15

  14. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. - Margaret Mead 1.16

  15. One can of cola ... 1.17

  16. KEY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES – A SUMMARY

  17. Enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming • Atmosphere surrounding the earth a mixture of gases • Greenhouse gases (eg water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane) so called because they trap heat, leading to warming lower atmosphere. This process occurs naturally and is essential to sustaining life on earth • Human activities in last 200 years (e.g. burning fossil fuels) have increased concentration of greenhouse gases, resulting in increased warming of the lower atmosphere - the enhanced greenhouse effect 1.19

  18. Enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming • Some gases, e.g. those used in air conditioning, have strong global warming potential • Other sources of emissions include agriculture (methane from animals and rice paddies), and waste in landfills (methane) • Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen so land clearing diminishes this potential (continued) 1.20

  19. Enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming (continued) 1.21

  20. Ozone depletion • Ozone layer is a concentration of ozone molecules in the stratosphere (10-50km above earth’s surface) • Stratospheric ozone shields earth from sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, reducing radiation • Increased UV radiation causes skin cancer, cataracts, weakened immune systems, reduce crop yield and impacts on marine systems • Ozone molecules are attacked by ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) • In the stratosphere, chlorine or bromine atoms split apart from ozone-depleting substances and destroy ozone molecules. One chlorine atom can break apart more than 100,000 ozone molecules 1.22

  21. Ozone depletion • In the 1980s, an ‘ozone hole’ was identified above the Antarctic and concluded to be more than natural variations in concentrations • International agreement such as Montreal Protocol have committed nations to phase-out or reduce ozone-depleting substances • CFC production banned in developed countries since 1995 and alternatives have been developed (continued) 1.23

  22. Loss of biodiversity • Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life on earth, including plants, animals and micro-organisms, along with the genetic material they contain and the ecological systems in which they occur • Biodiversity is being eroded globally through native vegetation clearance, pollution of air, land and water, inappropriate land use, disruption of natural ecological cycles, invasion of exotic weeds and pests and depletion of forests, fisheries and other natural resources 1.24

  23. Loss of biodiversity • Australia is among the most biologically diverse nations in the world - 290,000 species of Australian flora and 200,000 species of Australian fauna. Currently 1,478 species and 27 ecological communities currently listed at the national level as either endangered or vulnerable • We do not even know all species we are endangering or their potential for humans • We do not know what overall impact steady degradation of ecosystems will have - the thin end of the wedge? (continued) 1.25

  24. Soil degradation • Threatens global ability to continue to produce food. • By 1990, poor agricultural practices had contributed to degradation of 562 million hectares, (38% of the roughly 1.5 billion hectares in cropland worldwide. • Each year, an additional 5 – 6 million hectares of land estimated to be lost to soil degradation • Soil degradation includes: • soil erosion by water and wind - depleting topsoil and causing water and wind pollution • physical degradation through mechanical tilling • desertification - the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, caused primarily by inappropriate land use and climatic variations. salinisation and waterlogging of soil • depletion of soil nutrients through application of fertilisers • loss of beneficial soil organisms through over-application of agricultural chemicals 1.26

  25. Soil degradation • Major causes of soil degradation include overworking soil mechanically, land clearing and deforestation, overgrazing, irrigation, and over-application of agricultural chemicals • Soil erosion is expected to severely reduce agricultural production in regions including southeast Nigeria, Haiti and the Himalayan foothills, and part of southern China, Southeast Asia and Central America • Over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, with one billion people in over one hundred countries at risk • Salinity affecting enormous areas of land and water quality in rivers. Saline areas can result from natural processes, however, most newly salinised areas are the result of changes in land use and hydrological cycles. Most salinity results from rising groundwater. Types of salinity include dryland, irrigation, urban, river and industrial (continued) 1.27

  26. Dryland salinity Source: former NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation 1.28

  27. Resource depletion • We are steadily using up available non-renewable resources. Non-renewable resources = resources that are not replenished, or at least not replenished within hundreds of thousands of years, e.g. metals and fossil fuels • We are harvesting many renewable resources at rates greater than their rate of replenishment (e.g. many forests) • Use of energy from fossil fuels, which are effectively non-renewable, is of huge concern. Fossil fuels include petrol, diesel, natural gas, LPG, black and brown coal, oil, kerosene and aviation gasoline • Energy use and environmental impacts are closely linked, as the extraction, transport and use of fuels and the production of electricity impact the environment on local, regional and global levels, particularly the enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming • Global use of fossil fuel increased by over three and a half times between 1950 and 2000 1.29

  28. Resource depletion (continued) 1.30 World fossil fuel consumption, 1950-2000 Source: Worldwatch Institute (2001)

  29. Resource depletion • Australia, which compared to many countries has large reserves in comparison to annual use, is nonetheless facing a decline in crude oil production over the next decade, with estimates that self-sufficiency for this product will decline from 85 percent in 2001 to less than 40 percent in 2010 • In Australia, the ultimate constraint to use of non-renewable energy resources may well be the environmental impacts of extraction and consumption, rather than availability • Potable water another critical resource being depleted, particularly in Australia. Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent, yet in 1996/97 used 24,058 gigalitres (approx. 24 billion cubic metres) annually – an increase of 65 percent since 1985. There was a 75 percent increase in the annual volume of water used for irrigation between 1985 and 1996/97 (continued) 1.31

  30. Resource depletion • About one-third of the world’s population lives in regions with moderate to high water stress. If present consumption trends continue, two thirds of people in the world will live in water-stressed conditions by the year 2025 • Extraction of non-renewable resources has many environmental impacts, but is also a social issue - current wasteful practices reduce the opportunities for future generations to access these resources to satisfy their own needs. Within current generations, there is enormous inequity in how resources are distributed, leading to increasing global tensions (continued) 1.32

  31. Waste generation • Each year, every Australian contributes about one tonne of waste to landfill • Of the 21.2 million tonnes of waste disposed of at landfills in 1996/97, approx. 40% domestic waste, 23% commercial and industrial waste, and 37% construction and demolition waste • Waste is a problem not only because raw materials are not used to their full potential, but also because of disposal challenges 1.33

  32. Waste generation • Traditional approaches to waste management rely on the natural environment to absorb and assimilate unwanted by-products. Environmental impacts associated with waste disposal include land contamination, methane emissions, leachate discharges, odour, flammability, toxicity, and consumption of land resources • Landfill has been the most common method of dealing with solid waste in Australia. In large cities, and increasingly in towns, existing landfills are filling up and it is difficult to find new sites. Waste disposal costs have also risen substantially in recent decades • Hazardous waste creates additional problems, as it is difficult and costly to safely treat, or store, such materials (continued) 1.34

  33. Pollution • Impacts of pollution to air, land and water include harm to human health, degradation of natural ecosystems, and loss of productive land resources • In developed countries, pollution is now relatively well-regulated with significant penalties and industry has significantly improved its practices. However, we still have the burden of cleaning up many of the problems that have been caused from the polluting practices of many past industrial processes 1.35

  34. Pollution • Some pollutants are extremely persistent, and do not readily break down in the environment. As a consequence, they can ‘bioaccumulate’ • Minamata in Japan suffered one of the worst cases of industrial pollution in history • Non-point source pollution, such as oil and litter in stormwater, still an environmental problem in Australia • In many developing countries, where env. legislation non-existent or not enforced, industrial pollution remains a serious problem (continued) 1.36

  35. DEFINITIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY 1.37

  36. Sustainable development is ... “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” - 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development Report Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report) 1.38

  37. Ecologically sustainable development: “using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased” National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) 1.39

  38. Sustainability: • “in scientific terms, it means a system state that can endure indefinitely” (AtKisson, 2001) • “…has come to mean long-term survival and well-being in general, both for human civilization and the rest of nature” (AtKisson, 2001) 1.40

  39. Fair Trade & Working Conditions Eco-Efficiency & Environ. Economics Corporate Citizenship & Responsibility Health & Environmental Justice Conceptual approach of sustainability 1.41

  40. Eco-Efficiency & Environ. Economics Economics Social Sustainability Alternative conceptual approach 1.42

  41. Interrelationship between social, environmental and economic aspects. Source: National Centre for Sustainability, Swinburne University of Technology 1.43

  42. Sustainable growth vs sustainable development • growth = “the increase in human population, resource use, and the emission of waste” • development = “improvements in human technology and advances in the human condition, including health, education, intelligence, wisdom, freedom, and the capacityto love” (AtKisson, 1999) 1.44

  43. “‘Sustainable development’ has become one of the politically-correct theses of our era. Everybody is in favour of it - and everybody defines the term, on Humpty Dumpty’s principle, to mean what they want it to mean”- (Sir Martin Holdgate) 1.45

  44. “Sustainable development – a term so misapplied as to be nearly beyond rescue – is not development-as-usual with a few green-looking additions or nods to social equity; but that is what is has often been reduced to in practice” (AtKisson, 2001) 1.46

  45. Sustainability: “…as a word…is dying because of misuse, and dryness, and reduction to buzzword. It is dying because it is attached to too many initiatives that are failing to achieve their stated goals – or even, in many cases, to make any significant progress in that direction.” (AtKisson, 2001) 1.47

  46. CONCEPTS RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY 1.48

  47. Triple-bottom line “The triple bottom line focuses corporations not just on the economic value they add, but also on the environmental and social value they add – and destroy. At its narrowest, the term ‘triple bottom line’ is used as a framework for measuring and reporting corporate performance against economic, social and environmental parameters.” (Elkington, 1980) 1.49

  48. Ecological footprints • A means of quantifying the environmental impacts of various lifestyles • Summarises into a single value the level of sustainability of an individual, organisation, region, State or country • Allows for estimation of the area of land needed to support a household, a school, a business or society as they currently operate • Provides a simple way of identifying whether or not lifestyles and activities fit within the carrying capacity of the earth • If everyone else in the world consumed resources and energy and produced wastes the way Victorians currently do, we would need at least three earths to support such behaviours 1.50

  49. Ecological Footprints 1.51