CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Toward a Sustainable Future Copyright © 2008 Pearson Prentice Hall, Inc. 1.1 - Lesson of Easter Island • Small island in Pacific Ocean (near Chile) • Once was a paradise with 30,000 people • Dutch arrived in 1722 and found a barren island with less than 2,000 people WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ISLAND? Lesson of Easter Island • Used all their resources to live (used trees to help them make rope and move their enormous statues) • Soil eroded, causing faster runoff and poor farming conditions • Less food and resources led to war and starvation WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS? The Lessons of Easter Island • Society fails to care for the environment and sustain it • Population increase beyond carrying capacity • Disparity between rich and poor widens • Disease and war cause societal collapse • Resources are depleted and sustainability not attainable How to Prevent a Global Version of the Easter Island Disaster • Understand how the natural world works • Understand how human and natural systems interact • Accurately assess the status and trends of crucial natural ecosystems • Establish long-term sustainable relationships with the natural world Rapid Human Population Growth •The world’s population is now over 7 billion! •It continues to grow at 76 million persons per year. •By 2050, we could reach 9.1 billion people worldwide. •Unfortunately, 1.1 billion people experience extreme poverty. •They cannot meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. Rapid Human Population Growth Rapid Human Population Growth •Global economic production continues to rise. •However, income is not keeping pace, especially in developing countries. •Developing countries need to stabilize population growth, while stimulating economic growth. What does this mean for ecosystems worldwide? Indicators of Decline of Vital Ecosystems • Depleted water supplies • Drinking water, irrigation, pollution • Agricultural soils degraded • Lack of nutrients, erosion • Oceans over-fished • Fish populations have no recovery time • Forests cut faster than they can grow • Leads to erosion, CO2 increase in atmosphere, lack of products (paper, wood) Conceptual Framework for Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Global Atmospheric Changes •Scientists are looking at pollution on a global scale. •Pollution doesn’t follow man-made boundaries. •Global Climate Change •Increase in atmospheric CO2 traps infrared energy from the sun. •Earth’s surface temperatures increase. •Leads to widespread climate changes. •Kyoto Protocol •1997 - reps. from 166 nations met in Japan in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. •U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2001 (ironically, we are the biggest emitter on the planet) •Political and economic influences, short-term and long-term, for all nations. Global Atmospheric Changes Contributors to Loss of Biodiversity • Habitat alteration • Destroys resources for organisms • Exploitation • Harvesting, poaching • Pollution Loss of biodiversity… • causes ecosystem collapse and affects the services they provide (ex. filtering water, cycling nutrients, etc.) 1.2 - Three Strategic Themes • Sustainability: interactions with the natural world that we should be working toward • Stewardship: the ethical and moral framework of our actions • Science: the basis for our understanding of how the world works Unifying Themes Stewardship • Recognition that a trust has been given • Responsible care for something not owned • Desire to pass something on to future generations • Often needs to come from the “Avg. Joe” • Personal Stewardship Ethic • Ex. – recycling, buying a hybrid car, turning off lights, lessen your footprint! Environmental Justice or Racism? • Placement of waste sites and hazardous facilities in nonwhite communities Steps in the Scientific Method 1. State the problem 2. Gather information/research the problem 3. Form a hypothesis (if…then statement) 4. Experiment • Independent variable - what you are testing • Controls - things you keep the same • Dependent variable - results of the experiment 5. Gather Data/Observations 6. Conclusion (support or refute your hypothesis) 1.3 - Ecosystem Capital •Goods and Services •Goods - Renewable resources •Services - breakdown of waste, regulate climate, nutrient cycles, etc. •Exploitation •Oceans, forests, agricultural soils, water •Protection •Related to politics and economics •The gov. has to step in with policies and incentives ($$$$). Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being Policy and Politics • Human decisions that determine what happens to the natural world and the political processes that lead to those decisions. • Purpose of public policy is to promote the common good. Globalization • The accelerating interconnectedness of human activities, ideas, and cultures. • • • • Health improvements Global markets Improved crop yields Dilution or destruction of cultural and religious ideals. Globalization - Pros and Cons • Pros • Environmentally friendly consumer goods • Economic reorganization of the world • Cons • • • • Worldwide spread of emerging diseases Dispersion of exotic species Trade in hazardous wastes Spread of persistent organic pollutants 1.4 - The Environment in the 21st Century • If we do not change direction, we will end up where we are heading. • Everyone needs to do their part (governments, industry, sm. business, homeowners, students). • Environmental degradation can be slowed and we can be sustainable, but it will take a global effort and time!