Chapter 1 Notes 1.1 What is an environmentally sustainable society? The environment is everything around us.

We are utterly dependent on the environment for air, water, food, shelter, energy, and everything else we need to stay alive and healthy. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with the environment of living and nonliving things. Environmental science integrates information and ideas from the following areas: Natural sciences: biology, chemistry, and geology Social sciences: geography, economics, political science, and demography Humanities: philosophy and ethics Ecology, the study of how organisms interact with their environment and with each other, is a key subfield of environmental science. Important terms related to ecology: Species: a group of organisms with distinctive traits and, for sexually reproducing organisms, can mate and produce fertile offspring. Example: Human being = Homo sapiens sapiens. Homo classifies upright animals with large brain, language, and extended parental care of young. The first sapiens classifies animals with sparse body hair, high forehead, and large brain. The second sapiens classifies animals capable of sophisticated cultural evolution. Usually we would Ecosystem: a set of organisms interacting with one another and with their environment of nonliving matter and energy within a defined area or volume. Environmentalism is not the same as environmental science. Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life-support systems for us and all other forms of life. It is practiced more in the political and ethical arenas than in the realm of science. Sustainability is the ability of the earth’s various natural systems and human cultural systems and economies to survive and adapt to changing environmental conditions indefinitely. Natural capital is a critical component of sustainability. It includes the natural resources and natural services (related to natural processes) that keep us and other forms of life alive and support our economies. Natural resources are materials and energy in nature that are essential or useful to humans. These resources are divided into two (2) categories: Renewable: air, water, soil, plants, and wind, etc Nonrenewable: copper, oil, and coal, etc. Natural resources are supported by solar capital (energy from the sun) because it warms the planet and supports photosynthesis. The direct input of solar energy also produces indirect forms of renewable solar energy such as wind, flowing water, and biofuels made from plants and plant residues.

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Our ultimate goal is to create an environmentally sustainable society – one that meets the current and future basic resource needs of its people in a just and equitable manner without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs. animals. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that we are living unsustainably by waste. Any shift toward environmental sustainability should be based on scientific concepts and results that are widely accepted by experts in a particular field (more on Chapter 2).) In 2005. they resupply the soil with these nutrients. usually between scientific community. provides the nutrients that support the plants. In making such a shift. and microorganisms that live on land.- One vital natural service is nutrient cycling. Example 2: We are harvesting many species of ocean fish faster than they can replenish themselves. individuals matter. When they die and decay. It ultimately depends on the actions of individuals within that society. depleting. scientists’ work is limited to finding scientific solutions. Example: Topsoil.” Deplete or waste your capital. The implementation of scientific solution usually requires coordination of political processes and agencies. A second component of sustainability is to recognize that many human activities can degrade natural capital by using normally renewable resources fast than nature can renew them. (Related to the Tragedy of the Commons by Garret Hardin) Example 1: We are clearing of mature forest much faster than nature can replenish them. No life would exist without this service. and extinctions of valuable species. the United Nations released its Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that states human activities are degrading or overusing about 62% of the earth’s natural services. and government. This means preserving the earth’s natural capital. the renewable resources such as plants. private corporations. and soil provided by natural capital. which supplies this income. while providing the human population with adequate and equitable access to this natural income for the foreseeable future. and you will move from a sustainable to an unsustainable lifestyle. animals. and degrading the earth’s natural capital at an exponentially accelerating rate. (Think about future energy shortage by fossil fuel. It warns.” - - - - - - - - - . desertification. A third component of sustainability is the search of solution by environmental scientists to problems such as degradation of natural capital. Living sustainably means living off natural income. the upper layer of the earth’s crust. “Protect your capital and live off the income it provides. from the environment (mostly from soil and water) through organisms and back to the environment. the circulation of chemicals necessary for life. However. Example: Scientific solution for overharvesting of fish is to stop harvesting. Dealing with such conflicts often involves making compromises. Such act requires government laws and regulations. The search for solutions often involves conflicts. “human activity is putting such a strain 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. which is the fourth component of sustainability.

“Real gross domestic product -.increased at an annual rate of 2. In the United States. 2010.) classifies the world’s countries as economically developed or developing based primarily on their degree of industrialization and their per capita GDP PPP. The recent release was on July 30. There are a few proposed definitions: 1. the real GDP increased at an annual rate of 3. Department of Commerce. Turkey.1.S. Japan.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010.7%. The "second" estimate for the second quarter. and most countries of Europe. Brazil. New Zealand. The United Nations (U. The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). July. India. moderately developed countries: China. a recession lasting two (2) or more years. Asia.9%) and lasted until 2009 Q2 (GDP: -0. The GDP for the second quarter (from April to June) is estimated at an annual rate of +2. and Mexico Low-income. The developed countries (with 1. In the first quarter. April. the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) performs the calculation of GDP. economists use a tool called purchasing power parity (PPP). Most are highly industrialized and have a high per capita GDP PPP. - - - - . a decline of real GDP exceeding 10%. It combines per capita GDP and PPP for any given country to generate a term per capita GDP PPP. will be released on August 27. foreign and domestic. based on more complete data. real GDP increased 3. Thailand. 2010. and October. according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It is usually measured by the percentage of change in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP): the annual market value of all goods and services produced by all firms and organizations. or 2. Australia. GDP data is released quarterly in January.4%). a measure of the amount of goods and services that a country’s average citizen could buy in the United States. operating within a country. In the first quarter of 2010. The BEA is part of the U.7 percent.N. All other nations are classified as developing countries. Different countries have different currencies and each currency has its own purchasing power.2 bn people) include the United States.the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -. Canada. least developed countries where per capita GDP PPP is steadily declining. Middle-income.2 How can environmentally sustainable societies grow economically? Economic growth is an increase in nation’s output of goods and services. most of them in Africa.4%. the term “depression” does not have a technical definition. and Latin America. Changes in a country’s economic growth per person are measured by per capita GDP: the GDP divides by the total population at midyear. The recent recession started in 2008 Q4 (GDP: -7. To compare countries with the consideration of purchasing power. Unlike recession.” - - Economic statistician Julius Shiskin (1975) proposed a definition that defined recession as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP or real economic growth. from the first quarter to the second quarter). (that is.

1. fertile soil. and stimulated mass production of an array of useful goods and services for many people. More than half of the people in the world live in extreme poverty and try to survive on a daily income of less than USD$2. There are two major directions to create solutions against poverty. iron. which are least equipped to handle such large population increases. allowed people to live longer. from hours to hundreds of years through natural processes as long as it is not used up faster than it is renewed. The highest rate at which a renewable resource can be used indefinitely without reducing its available supply is called its sustainable yield. If the energy comes from combustion reaction (like burning of fossil fuel). and wild edible plants Resources that become useful only with some effort and technological ingenuity: petroleum. cultivated crops Solar energy is called a perpetual resource because it is renewed continuously and is expected to last at least 6 billion years as the sun completes its life cycle. and Jordan. Conservation is the management of natural resources with the goal of minimizing resource waste and sustaining resource supplies for current and future generations. Nigeria. Continuing conventional economic growth: helped to increase food supplies. classified as desperately poor. Congo. specifically fusion reaction of hydrogen atoms. The sun can last such long period of time because it is fueled by nuclear reactions. Belarus. the lifetime of the sun will be very short. The countries include Angola. wind. Resources directly available for use: solar energy. and to encourage environmentally beneficial and sustainable forms of economic development that help sustain natural capital. fresh air.There are a total of 49 countries in this category with 11% of the world’s population. About 97% of the projected increase in the world’s population between 2008 and 2050 is expected to take place in developing countries. - - - - - - . 1. struggle to survive on less than USD$1 a day. Environmentally sustainable economic development: using political and economic systems to discourage environmentally harmful and unsustainable forms of economic growth that degrade natural capital. Renewable resource can be replenished fairly quickly on a human time scale. And one of every six people. Nicaragua. Environmental degradation is a process where we exceed a renewable resource’s natural replacement rate – the available supply begins to shrink. 2.3 How are our ecological footprints affecting the Earth? A resource is anything obtained from the environment to meet our needs and wants. fresh surface water. groundwater.

and nonmetallic mineral resources (such as salt and sand). regulating access to the resources. the open ocean. flowing water (hydroelectric). Reusing resources takes less energy and other resources and produces less pollution and environmental degradation than recycling does. or doing both. and groundwater. you are more likely to protect your investment. and the heat in the earth’s interior (geothermal) to reduce our dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels such as oil and coal. or other resources. Ecological footprint is the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply the people in a particular country or area with resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by such resource use. One solution is to use shared resources at rates well below their estimated sustainable yields by reducing use of the resources. The reasoning is that if you own something. Common property The rights to certain resources are held by large groups of individuals. Example: glass bottles can be collected. metallic mineral resources (such as copper and aluminum). We have been developing the use of renewable energy resources such as wind. Open access renewable resources Owned by no one and available for use by anyone at little or no charge. however. Reuse is using a resource over and over in the same form. there may not be an acceptable or affordable substitute for nonrenewable resources. washed. minerals.- Three types of property or resource rights: 1. However. and other resources and produce much less pollution and environmental degradation than exploiting virgin metallic resources. This approach. Recycle involves collecting waste materials and processing them into new materials. Geological processes can renew such resources on a time scale of millions to billions of years. Example: Land that belongs to a whole village can be used by anyone for activities such as grazing cows or sheep. water. But on the much shorter human time scale of hundreds to thousands of years. Recycling nonrenewable metallic resources takes much less energy. and most wildlife species – that cannot be divided up and converted to private property. Examples of exhaustible resources include energy resources (such as coal and oil). We can often find substitutes for the nonrenewable resources. Private property Individuals or firms own the rights to land. The per capita ecological footprint is the - - - - - - . is not practical for global open-access resources – such as the atmosphere. Example: governments can establish laws and regulations limiting the annual harvests of various types of ocean fish that are being harvested at unsustainable levels in their coastal waters. and refilled many times. 2. open ocean and its fish. 3. the sun. Another solution is to convert open-access resources to private ownership. Nonrenewable resources exist in fixed quantity in the earth’s crust. these resources can be depleted much faster than they are formed. Example: clean air. - Many common property and open access renewable resources have been degraded. Example: discarded aluminum cans can be crushed and melted to make new aluminum cans or other aluminum products.

or through human activities. Pollutants can enter the environment naturally. and golf courses into streams and lakes. It is much easier and cheaper to identify and control or prevent pollution from point sources than from widely dispersed nonpoint sources. because of increased food supplies and longer life spans. Information-globalization revolution (~50 years ago) Humans developed new technologies for gaining rapid access to much more information and resources on a global scale. Nonpoint sources are dispersed and often difficult to identify. Examples: pesticides blown from the land into the air and the runoff of fertilizers and pesticides from farmlands. The pollutants we produce come from two types of sources: 1. identifiable sources. pollution. such as burning coal and gasoline and discharging chemicals into rivers and the ocean. or activities of humans or other organisms. Three revolutions that have impacted the human society dramatically: 1. Each of these cultural changes gave us more energy and new technologies to alter and control more of the planet to meet our basic needs and increasing wants.average ecological footprint of an individual in a given country or area. 3.000 years ago) Humans learned how to grow and breed plants and animals for food. clothing’s. - . and practices. The U. capacity to replenish its renewable resources and absorb the resulting waste products and pollution. If we follow the current trend. or ecological. by 2050.S. Point sources are single. such as coal and oil. They allowed expansion of human population. it is said to have an ecological deficit. humanity will be trying to use twice as many renewable resources as the planet can supply. and the exhaust pipe of an automobile. beliefs. If a country’s. and other purposes. Agricultural revolution (10. the world’s ecological footprint has exceeded the ecological capacity and is expected to continuously increase in the future. total ecological footprint is larger than its biological. has the world’s largest ecological footprint. and environmental degradation as our ecological footprints expanded. Since the late 1980s. the drainpipe of a factory. lawns. and how to grow large quantities of food and in efficient manner. and caused greater resource use. technology. Industrial-medical revolution (~275 years ago) People invented machines for the large-scale production of goods in factories. - - 1. and human cultural changes have had profound effects on the earth.4 What is pollution and what can we do about it? Pollution is any in the environment that is harmful to the health. such as from volcanic eruptions. Culture is the whole of a society’s knowledge. or the world’s. gardens. survival.000 – 12. 2. This involved learning how to get energy from fossil fuels. 2. Examples: the smokestack of a coal-burning power or industrial plant.

and 5. and education. the average American consumes about 30 times as much as the average citizen of India and 100 times as much as the average person in the world’s poorest countries. limited access to adequate sanitation facilities and clean drinking water. 4. - There are two ways to solve the pollution problem: Prevention and Cleanup Pollution prevention (or input pollution control) reduces or eliminates the production of pollutants. Desperate for short-term survival. 1.- There are two main types of pollutants. health. Such affluence is based mostly on the assumption that buying more and more things will bring happiness. Second. Third. Example: human sewage and newspapers. and severe respiratory disease and premature death from inhaling indoor air pollutants produced by burning wood or coal in open fires or in poorly vented stoves for heat and cooking. fisheries. we cannot rely on cleanup to solve the pollution problem. and wildlife. and arsenic. that nature exists - - - - - . poverty. shelter. - Environmental and social scientists have identified the major causes of environmental problems: 1. While poverty increase some types of environmental degradation. pollution and environmental degradation have a severe impact on the poor and can increase poverty. soil. failure to include the harmful environmental costs of goods and services in their market prices. Environmental Worldview is a set of assumptions and values reflecting how you think the world works and what you think your role in the world should be. population. The United States has far fewer people than India. grasslands. Poverty affects population growth because having more children can increase the population’s workforce and increase the chance of survival. Examples: toxic chemical elements such as lead. The current problems for the poor population are malnutrition. Nondegradable pollutants are harmful materials that natural processes cannot break down. 3. 2. Pollution cleanup (or output pollution control) involves cleaning up or diluting pollutants after they have been produced. Poverty occurs when people are unable to meet their basic needs for adequate food. Biodegradable pollutants are harmful materials that can be broken down by natural processes. 2. unsustainable resource use. First. insufficient knowledge of how nature works. it is too difficult to reduce them to a safety level when they are dispersed in the environment. There are three major worldviews: Planetary management worldview holds that we are separate from nature. water. at an ever-increasing rate. it is only a temporary solution as long as population and consumption levels grow without corresponding improvements in pollution control technology. However. The lifestyle of many affluent consumers in developed countries and in rapidly developing countries such as India and China are built upon high levels of consumption and unnecessary waste of resources. some of these people deplete and degrade forests. removing a pollutant from one part of the environment often causing pollution in another. mercury.

Our success depends on learning how life on earth sustains itself and integrating such environmental wisdom into the ways we think and act. not just for us. 2. or stewards. the genes they contain. and that we can use our ingenuity and technology to manage the earth’s life-support systems. Biodiversity (or biological diversity): the astounding variety of different organisms.mainly to meet our needs and increasing wants. mostly for our benefit. . but that we have an ethical responsibility to be caring and responsible managers. and totally dependent on. Stewardship worldview holds that we can and should manage the earth for our benefit. indefinitely. 1. Environmental wisdom worldview holds that we are part of. the ecosystems in which they exist. nature and that nature exists for all species. There is little or no waste in natural system. of the earth. Reliance on solar energy: the sun (solar capital) warms the planet and supports photosynthesis used by plants to provide food for themselves and for use and most other animals. Nutrient cycling: natural processes recycle chemicals that plants and animals need to stay alive and reproduce. 4. and the natural services they provide have yielded countless ways for life to adapt to changing environmental conditions throughout the earth’s history.6 What are four scientific principles of sustainability? 1. Population control: competition for limited resources among different species places a limit on how much their population can grow. 3.

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