Jan 16 ENV222 lecture notes.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
School of Environment
Geoffrey Mac Donald

Jan. 16ENV222 Causes of environmental problems ! 4) Jan. 16 Causes: Population growth Cunningham, William P., MaryAnn Cunningham and Barbara Saigo (2005). "Chapter 7. Human Populations." Environmental Science:AGlobal Concern. Eight edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill. pp. 124-145. ! ! Lecture notes ! 1. Review, previously discussed: what do we mean by “basic causes” of the environmental problem? . reader p. 13-14 sets out interconnected problem of cutting trees; which increases soil erosion; which increases flooding . provides three categories of causes: . predisposing factors - make an ecological system vulnerable to impact from human activity; . inciting factors - that human impact (cutting the trees) . contributing factors - other human or nonhuman impacts which exacerbate original impact . then says p. 14 we also need "deeper understanding" of human societies "know why people are cutting - the seven basic causes reviewed in this section are attempt to provide that deeper understanding; but as discussed, there is no consensus on this list or relative importance of these causes ! 2. Overview of the seven causes Since they are interconnected, it is useful having them all in our minds as we start this section. . population increase: increase in total number of humans consuming resources and generating wastes . consumerism: increase in per capita resource consumption and waste generation of each individual human human demand/desire for increased consumption/waste generation . capitalism: societal goal of ever-increasing economic growth from market activity . empirical method: science as a means of understanding reality . technology: machines plus ways they are used, in particular human organization . anthropocentrism: value (what is considered good or bad) which privileges human over nonhuman . human power: ability of elites to influence behaviour of masses, which increases ability of humans as a whole to influence the nonhuman ! ! ! !1 ! ! ! Population as a cause ! 1. The problem . rate of acceleration of total global population; reader 71-72 . 10,000 years ago few million . 1650 650 million . 1804 1 billion . 1960 3 billion . 2012 7 billion . 2050 9 billion (projected) ! . simply because there are more people, there are more environmental impacts, eg loss of habitat, pollution ! . the problem for humans is related to food supply: will there be enough? . but see reading for discussion of food as a problem of distribution, not total supply . plus the problem of rising prices if supplies are insufficient, affecting the vulnerable in the global South and fuelling social unrest ! . compounded by fact that economic growth is associated with increased protein consumption (eg cattle) and associated impacts; as Southern nations industrialize and experience economic growth, the portion of animal protein in food supply increases, magnifying the potential environmental problem associated with food supply; in 1999, world rangelands produced 54 million tons of beef and mutton, while the land needed for that animal production could have produced 378 million tons of grain (Brown, Lester R. (2001). "Chapter 3: Eradicating Hunger:A Growing Challenge." In Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2001. New York: W.W. Norton p. 47) - thus if humans were to eat grain directly, instead of feeding it to animals and then eating the animals, there would be that much more food available, but the trend is in the opposite direction ! . thus the problem of population interacts with the problem of per capita consumption and capitalism/economic growth ! . more people means more domestic live-stock and house-hold pets with associated environmental effects, eg disease transmission from poultry, cats killing birds; plus increased strain on the global food supply (currently something like 60 million dogs in the US, 20 million dogs and cats in the UK) ! . differing rates of growth/decline . global South growth; younger populations -Asia,Africa !2 . global North decline; older populations - Europe, NorthAmerica, Japan Russia extreme rate of decline ! Implications of growth in South, decline in North: . global biodiversity is concentrated in the South, near the equator, and so exposed to stress from population growth . countries in South have less environmental governance capacity (financing available to governments, strength of institutions such as independent judiciary) ! . hunger
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