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Lecture 23 - Human Impact on the Planet - April 2.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Keriann Mc Googan

April 2, 2013. Lecture 23 – Human Impact on the Planet Humans Impact on the Planet  Humans are a “successful” species o Upwards of 7 billion people living on this planet o Been around for quite a while, originated roughly 200 000 years ago o Homo erectus been around for 1.5 million years o So is time a good measure of success?  Humans have highly impacted  Population pressure o High rate of increase o 95% population growth in developing world o BUT resources not distributed equally o Populations increasing exponentially, faster rate of population growth in developing worlds o Important Events  1. Agricultural Revolution  Able to grow and store food independently  Food easier to acquire  Reduced rate of starvation and malnourishment  Increased life span and population growth  2. Medical Revolution  Medical advances in last century have greatly reduced death rates  Aid in the health of people and babies  Vaccines for diseases that used to kill many in the past  Lifespans and populations increase  Ecological Footprint o Measure of the ecological impact of human behaviour and activity o Measured in the amount of land and seascape required to produce resources consumed and to absorb waste produced o Canada has 3 worst ecological footprint, tied with Finland  Beaten by the US and United Arab Emirates o Measure your ecological footprint   Global Warming o Burning of fossil fuels  Produces greenhouse gases, heats the planet o Deforestation  E.g. Madagascar  Trees play an important role in the environment; reduce carbon dioxide o Catastrophic climate change o Indirect effects  Human hunger, disease  Impact on Biodiversity o Past 250 million years: two major extinction events rd o Are we currently in the midst of a 3 ? o Overhunting  Argued that wooly mammoths went extinct because of Pleistocene humans hunting them o Competition with non-native organisms o Habitat reduction o Extinction of species is part of the normal evolutionary process o It is the rate of extinction that concerns us now – we are creating the 6 mass extinction on Earth th  5 mass extinction event was 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs went extinct o Evolution required 10 million years of more to attain prior levels of species diversity o The Sixth Mass Extinction  Homo sapiens(humans) may be the cause of a sixth major extinction in history  Reasons for extinction:  Human population  Pollution  Global climate change  Habitat loss  Over-hunting  E.g. Dodo bird
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