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Lecture 8

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McMaster University
Walter Peace

1. Introduction  Human – environment relations – a fundamental theme in human geography  Environmental movement – product of social change in 1960s; “Silent Spring” – Rachel Carson  Question: Is a global disaster looming, or will human ingenuity and technology be able to solve our problems?  Key Concepts o Ecological footprint, a measure of our resource consumption and impact on the planet; (p. 440) o Ecosystem: a set of interacting/interdependent organisms and their environment; (p. 415) o Biodiversity: the range/variety of life forms in an ecosystem; (p. 393, 423) o Tragedy of the commons: when individuals have access to a common resource, individual rational behavior does not result in a collectively beneficial outcome; (p. 322) o Sustainable development: development which meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (p. 400-401) 2. Human Impacts  What factors affect the human impact on the environment?  One perspective: o I = PAT  Where: o I = Impact (on Earth’s resources) o P = Population o A = Affluence o T = Technology  Many factors affect relationships amongst these variables  Outcomes of these relationships among nature, society, and technology can be viewed as “human impacts” at all geographic scales?  Question: What role does economic development play as a determinant of human impacts?  Human Impacts: the range of effects and consequences of human activity on the environment.  Impacts include: pollution; habitat destruction; climate change; resource depletion; species extinction; desertification; etc.  Are some impacts more serious (of greater consequences) than others? Why?  History of Human Impacts o Origin of species – 6 million years ago – little/no impact o Paleolithic period – 1.5 million years ago – minimal impact o Neolithic period to Holocene – minimal impact (Why minimal impacts?) th th o Impacts become more varied with colonial expansion (15 -19 centuries) o Most significant impacts have occurred since the Industrial Revolution o As economic development takes place, human impacts become more pronounced and more pervasive o Industrial Revolution – Population increase; increasing levels of
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