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Section 2: The Environmental Crisis

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  1. EGS 1003: ???? (2011) Mary Lawhon ( Section 2:The Environmental Crisis This work by Mary Lawhon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  2. According to Greenpeace… “The Way Forward - Out of the Chemical Crisis” “UK commission findings - a wake up call to the crisis in our oceans” “Indonesia's Forests in Crisis” “Crisis in Japan's nuclear program demands end to reprocessing” China’s “energy shortage reaching crisis levels” “Cetaceans and the Oceans Crisis”

  3. “If I remember right, there were three great environmental tragedies in the making in the late 20th century. The ozone hole, which was going to fry us all; the relentless advance of the deserts, which would bake us; and the population explosion, which would leave us fighting over fixed food supplies.

  4. Catastrophic news for environmental doomsayers. More people have adequate diets than ever before in human history…  Atmospheric scientists are now forecasting the ozone hole will close in the next 50 years. And the New Scientist reports that the Sahara is… retreating… And you still wonder why environmentalist warnings aren't taken seriously?” (Denton, 2002)

  5. Is there an Environmental Crisis? It depends on who you ask! • What is meant by “crisis”? • What/how it is measured?

  6. “Things are better – but not necessarily Good” (Lomborg, 2001) “The first round of environmental investments did not fail; they worked, which is a great reason to have more.” (Easterbrook, 1995)

  7. A Crisis of What? • Survival? • Participation/Equity? • Culture? By Sean Wilson for SEI By Sean Wilson for SEI

  8. How to measure it? • Pollution? Which ones? • Number of International Agreements? • Poverty/Inequality Levels? • Area of Land which is Protected? • Amount of Food Produced? Hunger? • Over what time scale?

  9. What is the Cause of the “Crisis”?

  10. Poverty? “an environmentally sustainable future is within reach for the entire world provided that affluence and democracy replace poverty and tyranny as the dominant human condition” (Hollander, 2003: 16) “...people on the edge of starvation are understandably myopic about the benefits of long-term management” (Hollander, 2003: 61)

  11. Or Over-Consumption? Affluenza, n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. (PBS Undated)

  12. Ecological Footprints “Approximates the amount of arable and agriculturally or ecologically productive land area it takes to sustain one human or group of humans, say in a family or city, based on their use of energy, food, water, building material and other consumables.” ( 2006)

  13. How About Population? Paul Erlich, Population Bomb (1968: xi) "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..."


  15. “This is not an esoteric debate, but one of fundamental importance that affects real world policy and programmes”. (Gray & Moseley, 2005, referring to pov-evt debate, but applicable to all discussions of causes?)

  16. References Easterbrook, G. 1995. A Moment on the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism. New York: Penguin Books. Erlich, P. 1968. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books. Gray, L. and W. Moseley. 2005. A Geographical Perspective on Poverty-Environment Interactions. The Geographic Journal. 171.1:9-23. Greenpeace. 2005. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. Hollander, J. 2003. The Real Environmental Crisis. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Lomborg, B. 2001. The Skeptical Environmentalist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  17. References continued Undated. Total Fertility Rates. Online. Available at:[Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. PBS. Undated. Affluenza. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. United States Government Printing Office.1997. World Energy Consumption. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. University of Deleware. 2006. Graduate College of Marine Studies: Dr. David a. Hutchins. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. World Resources Institute. Undated a. Trends in Fertilizer Use, 1961-94. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. World Resources Institute. Undated b. Trends in Global Motor Vehicle Registration, 1945-95Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006]. 2006. Ecological Footprints. Online. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan 2006].