esrm100s01 - University of Washington

advertisement
Lesson 1: Fundamental Issues in Environmental
Science
Big Question: Why Is Science Necessary to Solve Environmental
Problems?
How to Use the Online Lessons
The primary purpose of the online lectures are to review,
reinforce, and add to material covered in the book. Material
you receive in these online lessons is just as likely to be on
exams as other material in the book. Some material, particularly
UW, local and regional examples, and timely material, may be
only on this site.
The best way for you to use the class materials is to read the each
book chapter first, then view the lessons.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
What is "Environmental Wisdom"?
“Environmental Wisdom” must include the little and the big picture
and must include people.
Visit and research the following sites:
Wikipedia article on Coffee:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee
CoffeeResearch.org: Coffee Production Statistics:
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/market/production.htm
Where the Hell Is Matt?:
http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/?fbid=ZIotVystLiI
What does the information on these sites tell us about something as
simple as coffee, travel, dancing, and people in the world in relationship to
Environmental Science?
3
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Sustainability
In the past 35 years, the number of people in the world more
than doubled, from 2.5 billion to over 6.6 billion. Visit this site
for current data:
U.S. Census Bureau:
http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
Our rapidly increasing population underlies all environmental
problems because most environmental damage results from the
very large number of people on Earth.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Sustainability
Use it, but don’t use it up
Other uses of the term "sustainability":
• sustainable society
• sustainable economy
• sustainable development
• sustainable architecture
• More on sustainability at Wikipedia: Sustainability:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Earth’s Carrying Capacity
How many people can Earth sustain?
Carrying capacity is usually defined as the maximum number of
individuals of a species that can be sustained by an environment
over the long term.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
A Global Perspective
Today our actions are experienced worldwide.
Life makes Earth’s environment unlike that of other planets.
The Gaia hypothesis proposes that the global environment has
been profoundly changed by life throughout the history of life on
Earth, and that these changes have improved the chances that
life on Earth will continue.
See the Wikipedia article: Think Globally, Act Locally.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Cities Affect the Environment
We are becoming an urban species, and our effects on the
environment are more and more the effects of urban life.
We must look more closely at the effects of urbanization.
Even as this happens, we cherish the concept of time in nonurban environments more than ever.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
People and Nature
“Principle of environmental unity”: everything affects everything
else
We depend on nature for many natural service functions
For a lot more information (and propaganda) on the impacts of
overconsumption, see the International Buy Nothing Day Web
site:
http://www.ecoplan.org/ibnd/ib_index.htm
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Science and Values
• Before we decide what kind of environment we want, we need
to know what is possible.
• Science is a process of discovery.
• Sometimes changes in ideas are small.
• Sometimes a science undergoes a fundamental revolution in
ideas.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Science is one way of looking at the world.
It begins with observations about the natural world.
From these observations, scientists formulate hypotheses that
can be tested.
Science does not deal with things that cannot be tested by
observation, such as the following:
• the ultimate purpose of life;
• the existence of a supernatural being; or
• standards of beauty or issues of good and evil.
Ideas are scientific if it is possible to disprove them.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
What is Environmental Science?
A group of sciences that attempt to explain how life on Earth is
sustained, what leads to environmental problems, and how these
problems can be solved.
Often linked with nonscientific fields that have to do with how
we value the environment (such as Deep Ecology).
Deals with many topics that have great emotional effects on
people.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Placing a Value on the Environment
Utilitarian justification
• values the environment it is useful economically or for
survival.
Ecological justification
• Values the larger life-support functions of the
environment.
Aesthetic justification
• values beauty.
Moral justification
• based on one’s view of right and wrong, and extending
inherent rights beyond humans.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Solving Many Environmental Problems Involves
Systems and Rates of Change
A system is a set of parts that function together to act as a whole,
like a city (streets, buildings, sewer systems) or a river (water
sources, animals and plants in and along the river.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Positive Feedback: Off-road Vehicles (ORVs) and
Erosion
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Some situations involve both positive and
negative feedback
Example: changes in human populations of large cities
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Exponential growth
Exponential growth is an important outcome of positive
feedback
Exponential growth is incompatible with sustainability
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Environmental Unity
It is impossible to change only one thing; everything affects
everything else
Changes in one part of a system often have secondary and
tertiary effects within the system and effects on adjacent systems
See Wikipedia: Butterfly Effect and Wikipedia: A Sound of
Thunder. Also see "The Butterfly Effect—Real?"
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Changes and Equilibrium in Systems
When the input to a system is equal to the output, the system is
said to be in a steady state
Steady state is a dynamic equilibrium because something is still
happening
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
• If input is less than the output, the storage
compartment will shrink
– Groundwater extraction
• If input exceeds
output, the storage
compartment will
expand
– Groundwater
pollution
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
To effectively manage natural systems, we need to
understand:
– the types of disturbances and changes that are likely
to occur
– the time periods over which changes occur
– the importance of each change to the long-term
productivity of the system.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Biota: Biosphere and Sustaining Life
Biota: all living things (animals and plants, microorganisms)
within a given area
Biosphere: the region of Earth where life exists
What is needed to sustain life?
there must be several species within a system that includes air
and water to transport materials and energy – an ecosystem
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Ecosystems
A community of organisms and their local nonliving
environment in which matter (chemical elements) cycles and
energy flows
Vary in size, from the smallest puddle of water to a large forest,
or the entire global biosphere
Ecosystem borders may be clearly or vaguely defined
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Environmental characteristics that
make solving problems harder
Lag time is the time between a stimulus and a system’s response
to that stimulus
If there is a long delay between stimulus and response, then the
resulting changes are much more difficult to recognize
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Exponential Growth and Long Lag Time
Exponential growth and long lag time may allow a population to
eventually exceed the carrying capacity, resulting in overshoot
and a decline collapse in the population.
Some environmental changes may be irreversible over time
periods of hundreds or thousands of years
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Ecological Footprint
Ecological footprint - the total area each person requires based
on the resources used and the waste produced.
We may be consuming about 20% more of Earth’s biological
productivity than is replaced each year.
Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz to determine your own
ecological footprint.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
The Precautionary Principle:
When in Doubt, Play It Safe
It can be difficult to prove with absolute certainty how human
activities lead to local and global environmental problems.
When there is a threat of serious environmental damage, we
should not wait for certain scientific proof before taking steps to
prevent potential harm.
How much proof do we need before acting?
We need to examine the benefits and costs of taking a particular
action versus taking no action.
The Precautionary Principle is a proactive tool.
More information on the Precautionary Principle.
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Chapter 1: Fundamental Issues in Environmental
Science
Questions? E-mail your TA. [email protected]
Lesson 1 / ESRM100 / University of Washington
Download
Related flashcards

Water

33 cards

Agriculture

26 cards

Japanese cuisine

27 cards

Agricultural gods

13 cards

Create Flashcards