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ES101 Lecture Weeks 3-6, 9 &11-12.pdf

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Environmental Studies
Robert Mc Leman

ES101 Lecture Weeks 36 9 1112Week 3 Chapter 3 Science and Matter The Truth About Swans According to Western Europeans swans can only be white scientific swans This is because all swans previously observed by Europeans were white When Australia was discovered by Europeans and in Australia there are black swans The Black Swan as a Metaphor Unexpected and improbable things that happen in the world If we can see it we believe it to be true Have to be prepared for the information that is unpredictableNassim Nicholas Talebs argues that people are easily fooled by what they observe Systems are much more complex than we can fathom so in addition to trying to make predictions we must be prepared to deal with the unpredictable Talebs Turkey Example If you put yourself in the mind of the turkey they look at us as amazing Giving them survival similar to us going to an allinclusive resort A black swan moment if they can only use what they can observe and then suddenly see that the world is not what it sees What the Black Swan Tells Us Systems function in complicated ways When messing around with systems must be prepared for a black swan moment Limits to deductive reasoning Many environmental challenges occur because we act like turkeys Science What is science attempt to understand the world around us through careful observation Using inductive and deductive reasoning helps us to understand different things in our environmentDeductive Reasoning all birds have feathers dodos were birds thus dodos had feathers Inductive Reasoning the dodos closest living relatives eats carbs and shellfish therefore dodos likely did too A Sample Scientific Approach Come up with hypothesis wind turbines have a negative effect on health of people who live nearby Reverse it wind turbines have no negative effect on people who live nearby null hypothesis Collect and analyze data If cannot find appropriate evidence then you would have to state that ES101 Lecture Weeks 36 9 1112Challenges in the Environmental Studies Scale of phenomena Complexity of phenomena Timeframes over which processes function Bias ignorance of people about the environment Systems ApproachOutcomes of complex interconnected human and natural systems System a set of things that function and interact in a regular and understandable way inputs throughputs and outputs Systems How the world might change if you change the system Environment is always changing Nitrogen Cycle in Absence of Humans Most nitrogen in earths system is nitrogenPlants are imperfect organisms absorbs from soil not air Bacteria fixes nitrogen in the soil take from air and then put into soil Nitrogen Cycle with Humans We eat legumes in such large quantities that the nitrogen doesnt have enough time to reproduce so we have to make fake nitrogen and put it back into the soil Fossil fuels burning and nitrogen oxide gets back into the air causing air pollution Changing nitrogen cycle Common Properties of Complex Systems Changing in the system because of the deer Synergies parts of the system lead to other outcomes when interactions lead to outcomes that are greater thandifferent from the sum of the inputs Feedback loops exist when you alter one component of the system it affects other components Positive Feedback Loop causes system to do more of the same warms air snow melts and exposed surface to warm up faster than before Negative Feedback Loop cause system to do less of the same introducing aluminum into recycling programs people will consume less new aluminum Throughput response times are variable Some actions trigger immediate outcomes deer walks onto highway and gets hit outcomes having time to be evaluated too many deer being hit therefore making a overpass would be in best interest
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