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CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

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CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

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CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

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  1. CHAPTER 1 Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability

  2. Core Case Study: A Vision of a More Sustainable World in 2060 • A transition in human attitudes toward the environment, and a shift in behavior, can lead to a much better future for the planet in 2060 Is it a story or can it be our future? sustainability: the capacity of the earth’s natural systems and human cultural systems to survive, flourish, and adapt into the very long-term future

  3. 1-1 What Are Three Principles of Sustainability? • Concept 1-1A Nature has sustained itself for billions of years by using solar energy, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling. • Concept 1-1B Our lives and economies depend on energy from the sun and on natural resources and natural services (natural capital) provided by the earth.

  4. Environmental Science Is a Study of Connections in Nature • Environment: • Everything around us • “The environment is everything that isn’t me.“ • Environmental science: interdisciplinary science connecting information and ideas from • Natural sciences: ecology, biology, geology, chemistry… • Social sciences: geography, politics, economics • Humanities: ethics, philosophy

  5. What do we learn in Environmental Science? How the environment affects us How nature works How to live more sustainably How we affect the environment How to deal with environmental problems

  6. Nature’s Survival Strategies Follow Three Principles of Sustainability • Reliance on solar energy • The sun provides warmth and fuels photosynthesis • Biodiversity • Astounding variety and adaptability of natural systems and species • Chemical cycling • Circulation of chemicals from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment • Also called nutrient cycling

  7. From Simple Cell to Homo Sapiens Fig. 1-2, p. 7

  8. Three Principles of Sustainability

  9. Sustainability Has Certain Key Components • Natural capital: supported by solar capital • Natural resources: useful materials and energy in nature • Natural services: important nature processes such as renewal of air, water, and soil • Humans degrade natural capital • Scientific solutions needed for environmental sustainability

  10. Natural Capital = Natural Resources + Natural Services Fig. 1-4, p. 9

  11. Nutrient Cycling Fig. 1-5, p. 10

  12. Natural Capital Degradation Do we protect our rainforests or destroy them? Fig. 1-6, p. 10

  13. Earth’s Resources Resource • Anything we obtain from the environment to meet our needs • Some directly available for use: sunlight • Some not directly available for use: petroleum Perpetual resource • Solar energy

  14. Some Sources Are Renewable…. Renewable resource Several days to several hundred years to renew E.g., forests, grasslands, fresh air, fertile soil Sustainable yield Highest rate at which we can use a renewable resource without reducing available supply

  15. ….. and Some Are Not Nonrenewable resources • Energy resources • Metallic mineral resources • Nonmetallic mineral resources

  16. SOLUTIONS: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  17. Reuse Fig. 1-7, p. 11

  18. Recycle Fig. 1-8, p. 12

  19. Countries Differ in Levels of Unsustainability • Economic growth: increase in output of a nation’s goods and services HOW IS IT MEASURED? • Gross domestic product (GDP): annual market value of all goods and services produced by all businesses, foreign and domestic, operating within a country CHANGES IN COUNTRY’S GROWTH PER PERSON • Per capita GDP: one measure of economic development

  20. Countries Differ in Levels of Unsustainability (2) • Economic development: using economic growth to raise living standards • More-developed countries (MDC): North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, most of Europe • Less-developed countries (LDC): most countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America

  21. Countries by Gross National Income per Capita Supplement 8, Fig 2

  22. GLOBAL OUTLOOK:What are the world’s trends?

  23. 1-2 How Are Our Ecological Footprints Affecting the Earth? • Concept 1-2 As our ecological footprints grow, we are depleting and degrading more of the earth’s natural capital.

  24. We Are Living Unsustainably • Environmental degradation: wasting, depleting, and degrading the earth’s natural capital • Happening at an accelerating rate • Also called natural capital degradation

  25. Natural Capital Degradation Fig. 1-9, p. 13

  26. Pollution: Sources and Types Sources of pollution • Point sources • E.g., smokestack • Nonpoint sources • E.g., pesticides blown into the air Main type of pollutants • Biodegradable • break down over time • Nondegradable • can’t be broken down • Unwanted effects of pollution

  27. Point-Source Air Pollution Fig. 1-10, p. 14

  28. Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Fig. 1-11, p. 14

  29. UNwanted Effects of Pollution • disrupt/degrade life support system for animals • damage wildlife, human health and property • create nuisances, e.g. noise, unpleasant smells, tastes, sights

  30. SOLUTIONS:How do we control pollution? Pollution cleanup (output pollution control) • cleaning up or diluting pollutants after we have produced them Pollution prevention (input pollution control) • reduces or eliminates the production of pollutants What is the best solution? What are the problems?

  31. Overexploiting Shared Renewable Resources: Tragedy of the Commons • Three types of property or resource rights • Private property • Common property • Open access renewable resources • Tragedy of the commons • Common property and open-access renewable resources degraded from overuse • Solutions

  32. The Tragedy of the CommonsOr: the challenge of common-pool resourcesOr: why the sum total of individual “rational” choices can lead to perverse (and socially sub-optimal) outcomes Credits: cow images from http://www.woodyjackson.com/

  33. Imagine a field of grass shared by 6 farmers, each with one cow…

  34. A few facts: Each cow currently produces 20 liters of milk per day The carrying capacity of the commons is 8 cows. For each cow above 8, the milk production declines by 2 liters (due to overgrazing, there is less grass for each cow: less grass, less milk!). 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 120 liters

  35. Do the farmers sit back and stay at 6 cows? Not if they are individual profit maximizers (here simplified as milk production maximizers) 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 120 liters (6 cows)

  36. Do the farmers sit back and stay at 6 cows? Not if they are individual profit maximizers (here simplified as milk production maximizers) “I’ll get another cow” 40 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 140 liters (7 cows)

  37. We are now at the carrying capacity -- do they stop? No. “Then I’ll get another cow too” 40 liters 40 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 160 liters (8 cows)

  38. They are now at the maximum total milk production. But do they stop? No… 36 liters 36 liters “I’ll get another cow” 18 liters 36 liters 18 liters 18 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 162 liters (9 cows)

  39. 32 liters 32 liters 16 liters 32 liters 16 liters “My cow is now less productive, but 2 will improve my situation” 32 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 160 liters (10 cows)

  40. 28 liters 28 liters 14 liters 28 liters “I’ll get another cow” 28 liters 28 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 154 liters (11 cows)

  41. “Well, everyone else is getting one, so me too!” 24 liters 24 liters 24 liters 24 liters 24 liters 24 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 144 liters (12 cows)

  42. “Well, I can still increase milk production if I get a third cow” 30 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters 20 liters Total daily milk production for the commons: 130 liters (10 cows)

  43. Ecological Footprints: A Model of Unsustainable Use of Resources • Ecological footprint: the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to provide the people in a region with indefinite supply of renewable resources, and to absorb and recycle wastes and pollution • Per capita ecological footprint: per person • Unsustainable: footprint is larger than biological capacity for replenishment

  44. Patterns of Natural Resource Consumption Fig. 1-12a, p. 15

  45. Patterns of Natural Resource Consumption Fig. 1-12b, p. 15

  46. Natural Capital Use and Degradation Fig. 1-13, p. 16

  47. Global Human Footprint Map Supplement 8, Fig 7