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Chapter 1- Introduction to Environment.docx

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Monika Havelka

September 9, 11, 13, 2013 Chapter 1 - Introduction to Environment Environment  “environ” to form a ring around or to surround  Environment: The sum total of our surroundings, including all of the living things and nonliving things with which we interact and includes:  Biotic: living things- animals, plants, forests, soils  Abiotic: nonliving things- continents, oceans, clouds, icecaps  Our built environment: road, buildings, factories  Social relationships and institutions  Governments, universities, cultures, etc  Environment Canada: The department of the federal government that is mandated to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment; conserve Canada’s renewable natural resources; forecast weather and environmental change; enforce rules relating to boundary waters; and coordinate environmental policies and programs  Legal Issues: The environment is a legal entity Natural Resources  Natural Resource: Any of the various substances and energy sources we need in order to survive  Two types of resources  Renewable/Inexhaustible Resources: (Stock-and-flow resources) A natural recourse that is virtually unlimited or that is replenished by the environment over short periods of hours to weeks to years o Sunlight, wind energy, wave energy, geothermal energy, soils, fresh water, etc  Non-renewable Natural Resources: A natural resource that is in limited supply and is formed much more slowly than we use it o Crude oil, natural gas, coal, copper, aluminum, and other minerals  Resource Management: Strategic decision making about who should extract resources and in what ways, so that resources are used wisely and not wasted  Aim: Balance the rate of withdrawal from the stock with the rate of renewal/regeneration  Stock: The harvestable portion of a resource Root Environmental Problems 1. Human population Growth  Paleolithic/Stone Age Period: Control of fire, use stones as tools to modify their environment  Neolithic Period/Agricultural Revolution: Transition from nomadic hunter gatherer to settled, agricultural way of life  Industrial Revolution: urban society powered by fossil fuels  Medical-Technological Revolution: Medicine advances, communication technologies, and shift to modern agricultural practices (Green Revolution) 2. Consumption of resources has risen faster than population  Total impact (I) on the environment = Population (P) x Affluence (A) x technology (T)  Carrying Capacity: The maximum population size that a given environment can sustain. When the carrying capacity of land/water system is exceeded:  Population of that species will decline or collapse  System itself will be altered, damaged, or depleted September 9, 11, 13, 2013  Tragedy of the Commons: The scenario in which each individual withdraws whatever benefits are available from an unregulated/poorly regulated common property resource, until the resource becomes overused/depleted  Enforce Private Ownership to allow landlords to be better environmental stewards  Ecological Footprint: (Inverse of carrying capacity) The cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person/population consumes and to dispose/recycle the waste that is produced  Bio-capacity: The capacity of a terrestrial/aquatic system to be biologically productive and to absorb waste 3. Poverty: people sell off their environmental assets in order to survive Environmental Science  Environmental Science: The study of how the natural world works, how natural resources and processes support life, and how humans and the environment interact  Environmental Science explores interactions between humans and physical and biological world  Encompasses biogeochemical-physical system in which people and other organisms exist  Dynamic interrelationships among organizations (including people) and their surroundings (physical chemical, biological, geological, social/cultural)  Emergent Properties: understanding is greater than a sum of the parts  Encompasses natural science (disciplines that study the natural world) and social sciences (disciplines that study human interactions and institutio
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