GEO702- Lecture 1
Technology & Contemporary Environment
Both resources and environment are function of technology
o Technology has denied or forestalled the original Malthusian vision of
population growth outrunning food production
o With technology, the problem of typhoid in many regions of the world
have been solved.
o Economic, technological and scientific development are accompanied
by ever larger risks for the environment.
o Pollution: degradation of the environment as a result of some type of
Acute- release of highly toxic substances over a long period of
time. e.g. SARS/H1N1
Chronic- slow discharge of less toxic substances over a long
period of time. Sometimes the impact will not be felt for years.
e.g growth of algae (water becomes depleted of oxygen – fish
Persistent- pollutants that remain in the environment for a
long time. e.g Chernobyl
Disturbance: physical disruption of the environment. Excess disruption of
resources. e.g global warming, excessive logging
Carrying capacity: the number of people or biological units that the Earth
Question: is there a limit to which human population and other organisms
can be sustained by biophysical resources?
Waste assimilation capacity: the ability to receive, biodegrade, neutralize &
dissipate(spread out) decontaminate without affects on environment.
Carrying Capacity: Technology & Trade
Does technology and trade expand ecological carrying capacity?
Appropriated carrying capacity
o Stock resources – limited in supply takes million years to form. E.g
fossil fuels, uranium, copper.
o Flow resources – can be sustained depleted or obsolete. These
resources recover slowly E.g forest, atmosphere, water, soil.
o Perpetual - continuous/everlasting resources. eg sun, ocean, wind
Ecological Footprint: the total area land/water require to produce the
resources used and to assimilated the wasted produce.
William Rees and Mathis Wackernagle Tragedy of the Commons
Picture a pasture land open all
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain
What is the benefit of adding one more animal
o 1. Positive Component – profit, more milk and meat
o 2. Negative Component – over grazing leads to depletion of grass.