Chapter 1
 Two
kings and a game of chess.
 Another analogy: paper folding.
 Exponential growth – when a quantity
increases by a fixed percentage.
 Impact of human exponential growth on
• Loss of animal and plant species
• Loss of resources
 Concept
1-1A Our lives and economies
depend on energy from the sun (solar
capital) and on natural resources and
natural services (natural capital)
provided by the earth.
 Concept 1-1B Living sustainability
means living off the earth’s natural
income without depleting or degrading
the natural capital that supplies it.
 Interdisciplinary
science connecting
information and ideas from
• Natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology
• Social sciences
• Humanities
 The
goals of environmental science are to
• How nature works
• How the environment affects us
• How we affect the environment
• How to deal with environmental problems
• How to live more sustainably
 Some
• Environment – living and non-living things with
which we interact.
• Environmental science – interdisciplinary
study of how humans interact with the
• Ecology – study of how organism interact w.
their environment and each other.
• Organism – living thing
• Species – group of interbreeding organisms
capable of producing fertile offspring.
• Ecosystem – set of organisms interacting with
one another and with their environment of
nonliving matter and energy within a defined
area or volume.
 Sustainability
– the ability of the earth’s
various natural systems and human
cultural systems and economies to
survive and adapt to changing
environmental conditions indefinitely.
 There
are five subthemes for that help
pave a way toward sustainability.
• Define natural capital.
• Accept that many human activities result in the
degradation of natural capital.
• Environmental scientists search for solutions.
• Proposed solution lead to conflicts require
trade-offs (or compromises).
• Individuals matter to search for solutions to
environmental problems.
 Environmentally
sustainable society –
one that meets the current and future
basic resource needs of its people in a
just and equitable manner w/o
compromising the ability of future
generations to meet basic needs.
 $1 million lottery analogy
• Take home message: Protect your capital and live
off the income it provides.
 Living
sustainably means living off natural
income – renewable resources such as plant,
animals and soil provided by natural capital.
 2005 Millennium Ecosystems Report
• 4 year study involving 1360 experts
• 62% of earth’s natural services are degraded or
• Report warned, “..human activity is putting such a stain
on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the
planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can
no longer be taken for granted.”
 There
is good news
 Concept
1-2 Societies can become more
environmentally sustainable through
economic development dedicated to
improving the quality of life for everyone
without degrading the earth's life support
 Economic
growth is the increase in a
nation’s output of goods and services.
 Gross domestic product (GDP) – the
annual market value of all goods and
services by all firms and organization
foreign and domestic operating w/in a
 per capita GDP – used to measure
changes in a country’s economic growth.
 Purchasing
power parity
 Per capita GDP PPP – a measure of the
amount of goods and services that a
country’s average citizen could buy.
 Economic development – uses
economic growth to improve living
 The
UN classifies the world’s countries
based on degree of industrialization and
per captia GDP PPP.
• Developed – 1.2 billion people, U.S., Can, Jap,
New Zealand, and most of Europe.
• Developing – 5.5 billion people, most in Africa,
Asia, Latin America.
• Some are middle-income, moderately
developed, China, Mex, India, Brazil, Turkey, and
Despite a 40-fold
increase in economic
growth since 1900, more
than half of the world live
in extreme poverty. One
in six are desperately
Continued conventional
economic growth or
sustainable economic
 Concept
1-3 As our ecological footprints
grow, we are depleting and degrading
more of the earth’s natural capital.
 Resource
– from a human standpoint,
anything obtained from the environment to
meet our needs and wants.
• Directly available for use
• Not directly available for use
 Conservation
– management of natural
resources with the goal of minimizing
resource waste and sustaining resource
supplies for current and future generations.
 Perpetual resource
• Solar energy
 Renewable resource
– on a human timescale
can be replenished fairly quickly (hours to
hundreds of years) through natural processes
as long as it is not used up faster than it is
• e.g., forests, grasslands, fresh air, fertile soil
 Sustainable
yield – highest rate at which a
renewable resources can be used indefinitely
without reducing its available supply.
 Environmental degradation results when
SY is exceeded.
 Three
types of property or resource
• Private property – individuals or firms own the
rights to land, minerals, or other resources.
• Common property – rights to certain resources
are held by large groups of individuals.
• Open access renewable resources – owned by
no one and available for use by anyone at little
or no charge.
 Many
common property and open access
renewable resources have been
• In 1968, Biologist Garrett Hardin called such
degradation Tragedy of the Commons.
• Threatens our ability to ensure the long-term
economic and environmental sustainability of
open-access resources such as clean air or open
ocean fisheries.
 Solutions
• Reduce use and/or regulate access
• Private ownership.
 Nonrenewable
• Energy resources
(e.g., coal and oil)
• Metallic mineral
resources (e.g., ores of
Cu and Al)
• Nonmetallic mineral
resources (e.g., salt
and sand)
 Reuse
 Recycle
Figure 1-8 Reuse: This child and his
family in Katmandu, Nepal, collect
beer bottles and sell them for cash.
Figure 1-9 Consumption of natural resources: On the left, subsistence farmers
in the Himalaya Mountains between China and India. Their use of resources
is devoted to mostly to meeting their basic needs. On the right, a Pearland
Texas family, typical of affluent nations. Their use of resources is way beyond
their basic needs.
 Ecological
footprint concept – amount of
biologically productive land and water
needed to supply the people of a country or
area w/ resources and to absorb and
recycle wastes and pollution produced by
such resource use.
• Biological capacity – the ability of an area to
replenish its resources and absorb the resulting
waste products and pollution.
• Ecological deficit – when ecological footprint is
larger than biological capacity.
• Relative ecological footprints
 Leading
consumer of various foods and
• Wheat, rice, and meat
• Coal, fertilizers, steel, and cement
 Second
largest consumer of oil
 Two-thirds of the most polluted cities are
in China
 Projections, by 2020
• Largest consumer and producer of cars
• World’s leading economy in terms of GDP PPP
 Projection
for China under by 2033 under
current trends.
• Population reaches 1.5 billion
• Require 2/3 of world’s current grain harvest
• 2x current world’s paper consumption
• Consume more that the current global
production of oil.
 According
to environmental policy
expert Lester Brown
• The western model the fossil fuel-based,
automobile-centered, throwaway economy is
not going to work for China. Nor will it work for
India, which by 2033 is projected to have a
population even larger than China’s, or for the
other 3 billion people in developing countries
who are also dreaming the “American dream.”
 Culture
– the whole of society’s
knowledge, beliefs, technology, and
• Cultural changes have had profound effects on
the earth.
• Present form of our species, Homo sapiens
sapiens, has walked the earth for 95-195
thousand years, a mere blink in the 3.6 billion
year planetary life history.
 12,000
years ago: hunters and gatherers
 Three major cultural events
• Agricultural revolution (10 to 12 tya)
• Industrial-medical revolution (275 ya)
• Information-globalization revolution (50 ya)
 These changes were associated with
greater energy use, greater resource use,
more pollution and environmental
 Environmental scientist call for an
environmental, or sustainability,
 Concept
1-4 Preventing pollution is
more effective and less costly than
cleaning up pollution.
 Pollution
– anything in the environment
that is harmful to the health, survival, or
activities of humans or other organisms.
• Can enter naturally or through human activities.
 Sources of pollution
• Point (e.g., smokestack)
• Nonpoint (e.g., pesticides blown into the air)
 Two main types
• Biodegradable (e.g., human sewage and paper)
• Nondegradable (e.g., Pb, Hg, and As)
 Three
types of unwanted effects of
• Disrupt or degrade life-support systems
• Damage wildlife, human health, and property
• Create nuisances: noise, unpleasant smell, taste
and sight.
 Two
ways to deal with pollution
• Pollution cleanup (output pollution control)
 Cleaning up or diluting
 Problems with this option:
 Temporary bandage for exponentially increasing
 Removes pollution in one area only to put it elsewhere
 Once dispersed in the environment, costs too much or
impossible to reduce to safer levels.
• Pollution prevention (input pollution control)
 Eliminates or reduces
Concept 1-5A Major causes of environmental
problems are population growth, wasteful and
unsustainable resource use, poverty, exclusion of
environmental costs of resource use from the
market prices of goods and services, and
attempts to manage nature with insufficient
Concept 1-5B People with different
environmental worldviews often disagree about
the seriousness of environmental problems and
what we should do about them
 What
are some major environmental
problems cause by pushing resources
through the global economies?
 Five
basic causes for environmental
Population growth
Wasteful and unsustainable resource use
Failure to include the harmful environmental costs of
goods and services in their market prices
• Insufficient knowledge of how nature works
 Poverty
– when people are unable to
meet their basic needs for adequate
food, water, shelter, health, and
• ½ world’s population are desperate for short-
term survival depleting and degrading forests,
soil, grasslands, fisheries, and wildlife at an
increasing rate.
• Difficult to worry about long-term environmental
quality and sustainability.
 Population growth affected
• More children for security  higher growth rate
• Poverty increase degradation of environment,
likewise, environmental degradation can increase
poverty. (positive feedback)
 Malnutrition
– lack of protein and other
nutrients needed for good health.
 Premature death
 Limited access to adequate sanitation
facilities and clean water (2.6 billion people and
1 billion get water from sources contaminated by
human and animal feces)
estimates 7
million premature
deaths each year.
• 2/3 are children
younger than age 5.
Figure 1.13
Some harmful results of poverty.
Figure 1-14 Global Outlook: in developing countries, one in every three
children under the age of 5, such as this child from Lunda, Angola, suffers from
severe malnutrition. WHO estimates that each day at least 13,700 children
under age 5 die prematurely from malnutrition and infectious diseases, most
from drinking contaminated water and being weakened by malnutrition.
Harmful environmental impact due to
• High levels of consumption
• Unnecessary waste of resources
• Can obtain resources from anywhere in the world w/o
seeing the harmful environmental impacts.
Positive influence
• Air cleaner, water safer, rivers and lakes cleaner, food
supply more abundant and safer, life-threatening infectious
diseases greatly reduced, lifespans longer, and some
endangered species being rescued from extinction.
• Affluence can provide funding for
 Developing technologies to reduce
 Pollution
 Environmental degradation
 Resource waste
 Companies
do not pay the environmental
cost of resource use (unless required to by laws and
 Goods
and services do not include the
harmful environmental costs.
 Companies
receive tax breaks and
• Helps create jobs and stimulate the economy.
• Economy may be stimulated but there may be a
degradation of natural capital.
 Views
depend on environmental
worldview  a set of assumptions and
values reflecting how one thinks the
world works and what you think your role
in the world should be.
 Involves environmental ethics 
beliefs about what is right and wrong
with how we treat the environment.
• See examples of relevant ethical questions, p. 20.
Environmental Worldviews
■ We have an ethical
responsibility to be caring
■ We are apart from the rest of
managers, or stewards, of the
nature and can manage
nature to meet our increasing
■ We will probably not run out
needs and wants.
of resources, but they should
■ Because of our ingenuity and
not be wasted.
technology, we will not run out
■ We should encourage
of resources.
environmentally beneficial
forms of economic growth and
■ The potential for economic
growth is essentially unlimited. discourage environmentally
harmful forms.
■ Our success depends on
■ Our success depends on how
how well we manage the
well we manage the earth's lifeearth's life- support systems
support systems for our benefit
mostly for our benefit.
and for the rest of nature.
Planetary Management
Environmental Wisdom
■ We are a part of and totally
dependent on nature, and
nature exists for all species.
■ Resources are limited and
should not be wasted.
■ We should encourage earthsustaining forms of economic
growth and discourage earthdegrading forms.
■ Our success depends on
learning how nature sustains
itself and integrating such
lessons from nature into the
ways we think and act.
 Scientific
 Identify
problem and
multiple solutions
 Consider
Figure 1-15 Steps involved in
making environmental decisions.
 Most
helpful to build social capital – involves
getting people with different views and values
to talk and listen to one another, find common
ground, and work together to solve
environmental and other problems.
• Encourages
 Openness and communication
 Cooperation
 Hope
• Discourages
 Close-mindedness
 Polarization
 Confrontation and fear
 Environmental
success story: example of
building their social capital
 1960: most polluted city in the U.S.
• People and industry fled downtown, high
unemployment and crime.
 1984: Vision 2000
• 1700 citizens built a consensus after identifying
problems, setting goals and brainstorming for ideas
and solutions.
 1995: most goals met:
• including zero-emission industries and electric
buses, a recycling program, and since 1989, air
pollutant lower than federal standards.
• Zero-emission industries and electric buses, a
recycling program, and since 1989, air pollutant
lower than federal standards.
• Renovate low-income houses and built low-income
• An aquarium and a riverfront park along Tennessee
River banks
 1993: Revision 2000
• Most revision goals have been met
 Transform S. Chattanooga into mixed community of
residences, retail stores, and zero-emission industries
where employees can live near workplaces.
 5–10%
of the population can bring about
major social change
 Anthropologist Margaret Mead
• “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
 Aldo Leopold: environmental ethics
• A leader of the conservation and environmental
movements of the 20th century
 Land ethic
• Wrote: A Sand County Almanac
 Concept
1- 6 Nature has sustained itself
for billions of years by using solar
energy, biodiversity, population control,
and nutrient cycling—lessons from
nature that we can apply to our lifestyles
and economies.
Figure 1-17 Four scientific principles of sustainability

Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability