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University of Guelph
GEOG 2210
Lucy Sportza

GEO*2210 Exam Notes Unit 1: Ecosystems – a community and its members interacting with each other and their nonliving environment Country Foods – local meats and fish Environment – the surroundings in which plants and animals live, affected by various physical factors such as temperature, water, light, and food resources Ecosphere – see biosphere Biosphere - that part of the Earth inhabited by plants and animals, and their interactions with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere Natural Capital – earth’s natural resources and ecological systems that provide vital-life support services such as flood control. All aspects of the environment used to provide manufactured goods, to secure our quality of life, and to support a range of economic activities such as agriculture and recreation. Pollutants – substances that affect the physical, chemical, or biological quality of the Earth’s environment. Renewable Resources – resources such as forests that can be replaced by the environmental processes in a time frame meaningful to humans Nonrenewable Resources – resources such as fossil fuels that are finite in supply or replaced so slowly that they are soon depleted Natural Resources – the components of nature that are useful to us and are available at a price we are willing to pay, including stocks of resources such as minerals and timber. Intrinsic Value – a value placed on the inherent qualities of a species and/or an ecosystem, independent of its value to humans The Changing Global Environment – The Problem we Face • Human activities have increased environmental change and have had dramatic impacts on the quality and productivity of the planet’s ecosystem • As humans pursue economic growth concerns about environmental quality have increased • We are not separate from our environment but an integral part of it • Ecosystems have finite productive capacities and assimilative abilities, and they are affects by human activities • As human populations and consumption levels grow the impact becomes larger • Impacts of human activities often transcend political boundaries and can lead to serious social, economic, and environmental problems World Scientists’Warning to Humanity • Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course...the earth is finite • Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite • The impacts on the environment include the atmosphere, water resources, oceans, soil, forests, and living species • The atmosphere is experiencing ozone depletion which threatens us with enhanced ultraviolet radiation as well as air pollution near the ground level and acid precipitation • Water resources are being depleted resulting in water shortages, decreased food production, and effects human systems • Oceans are being overharvested destroying the world’s food fish and runoff from land polluting the waters • Soil is losing its productivity by agriculture causing land abandonment • Forests are being overharvested not allowing them to repopulate • Living species are becoming extinct due to human activities such as pollution • Agreat change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated • The actions that must be addressed are control environmental damage, manage resources more effectively, stabilize populations, reduce or eliminate poverty, and ensure sexual quality. • They require the help from everyone I=P*A*T • Causes of environmental problems are human population growth. Overconsumption of resources, and pollution • I = environmental impact • P= population size • A= affluence (sometimes C, and is consumption per person) • T= technology such as damage per unit of consumption • Population growth occurs more in poorer countries than in rich countries • Yet resource consumption and pollution production occur more in rich citizens than poor ones • Affluence and technology aren’t root causes of degradation because there growth is created by other true’root causes’ Unit 2: Prisoners’Dilemma • Two people suspected of commiting a serious crime are apprehened commiting a lesser crime, and placed in separate holding cells • Police do now know who committed the serious crime, and so ask each one to implicate the other • Each offered a deal: implicate your accomplice and you get off free, while the other gets 10 years; implicate one another, each will get 8 years; stay silent and you will be convicted of the lesser crime and get 2 years each • The typical outcome is that both are implicated for 8 years each • Worst collective outcome which shows that individually rational strategies result in a collectively irrational outcome • Areal life example would be global climate change • All countries will benefit from a stable climate but any single country is hesistant to control CO2 emissions • The immediate benefit to an individual country to maintain current behavior is seen as greater than the eventual benefit to all countries if behavior was changed • This also explains the current impasse concerning climate change Can selfishness Save the Environment? • People are really only motivated by self-interest • Economists and biologists generally believe that people are not willing to pay for the long-term good of society or mother earth • You would think people have the capability to realize that they are on the path to self- destruction, but then again that is how man has gotten into this mess, through ignorance • Man has come to believe that the world was made to produce man • Man has no regard for nature or surrounding, his only objective is to eliminate the competition for profit • An example of this is the tragedy of the commons - overgrazing • An owner benefits from each extra cow they add but the costs of the extra strain put on the grass are shared among all the users of the common • Another example is greenhouse effect where everytime you burn gas from driving a car you benefit from transportation but the environmental cost is shared with the entire human race • The idea is that in society today the only way to a man’s heart is through his wallet • Since people are motivated by self-interests the only way to save the environment will have to ways to reward those who are environmentally conscious and punish those who are not Environmental Philosophies • Mainstream environmentalism focuses on human health hazards such as from pesticides and obvious environmental decline such as algae blooms; it is effective at rasing awareness and improving human health • Deep ecology focus on demands in biocentrism and fundamental change in societal organization towards small-scale, self-sufficient communities and reduced human population with heavy influence by religions such as Buddhism • Social ecology wants to eradicate all forms of domination and hierarchy as well as eradicate the structures that give rise to destructive individual behavior • Ecofeminism focuses on woman and the environment to create a women’s world rather than a man’s world, make women more involved in the natural world and eliminate the domination of nature by man • Bioregionalism wants a place defined by its life forms, its topography and its biota, rather than by human dictation • Gaia(earth) can be though of as a living organism and our environmental problems stem from our lack of understanding of Gaia • Ecological economics believes that there is a finite resource base on earth and to reorganize our economy to match the ecology • The ecological footprint concept follows the I=PAT, with focus onA • Ecomarxism recognizes capitalist induced environmental damage and its aim is to eradicate capitalism and replace it with true socialism • Voluntary simplicity not necessarily a green philosophy but given its impact on consumption, it has important environmental implications Unit 3: What we mean by ‘worldview’and ‘expansionist worldview’ • Worldviews are sets of commonly shared value, ideas, and images concerning the nature of reality and the role of humanity within it • One can think of worldview as coloured glasses through which one sees the world where they are not aware that they are wearing them • Worldview influences us through things we see as common sense such as what is acceptable in society and things as nonsensical like a rock having the same rights to exist as a human • The expansionist view can be characterized by a faith in science and technology to control nature for human ends • Abelief in the inherent rights of individuals • Abelief in progress and the accumulation of material wealth via exploitation of nature • Unlimited economic growth as desirable, possible, and necessary • Wealth as an indicator of success/progress How the Judeo-Christian legacy, the scientific revolution and the idea of private property have contributed to the development of our current window • Judeo-Christian legacy influences our current worldview by viewing humans as separate from, superior to, and controlling of, nature • Nature is depicted as a hostile and chaotic place requiring intensive human labour and effort • The environment is valued for its use and not its intrinsic values which has allowed exploitation of nature • The scientific revolution helped us investigate the world around us by repeatedly asking question about how natural environments work • The scientific method allows us to explain phenomenons and increase knowledge of the world via reasoning • Anew mechanistic metaphor for nature where nature is seen as moving parts independent of each other that their relations between each part are deterministic allowing for prediction and control • Private property provides incentive for humans to have property rights and seen to allow humans to live in better conditions • Humans should own parts of the nonhuman world as their exclusive and private property • These views contributed to our current worldview by seeing humans as master of nature, low evaluation of nature, nature as a machine, and own and make use of nature The implications of the market system for the use and misuse of the environment • Resources are limited while human demands are infinite therefor societies must decide what to produce, how to produce it, and how to distribute it • Three dominat approaches to solve economic problems include kinship/traditional, command/planned, and the use of markets • Scarce resources are automatically allocated based on the rational, self-intereted action of individuals • Price theory establishes micro economic order where markets will supply and provide a price for a good if individuals demand the good • Markets provide the most efficient way to allocate society’s scarce resaources • This process causes alienation whereby our focus on efficiency makes us blind to its negative implications • Also causes cost-shifting where producers shift production costs on to governments/taxpayers, workers, and the environment leading to pollution • Costs of production that fail to be captured in the market price of a good, yet have very real costs on society and the environment • An example of this is international shipping • Even though an environments resource is being overexploited such as fish harvesting since the demand is there they have to keep up with the supply and will harvest even though fish populations are declining • Once one species of fish disappears they just substitute to another fish we can eat which means that sustainability isn’t focused on one species of fish The implications of capitalism • The drive for wealth is directed at the foundation of society not at its apex (draw hierarchy pyramid of money) • Capitalism is designed to produce constant growth • The accumulation of wealth is derived from the profits of production • The mode of production cannot be static and as a consequence cannot sustain an equilibrium with its environment • The use of markets to solve the economic problem is a characteristic of capitalist economies • Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately held by individuals and firms. Consumerism and its contributions to current culture/worldview and the implications for the environment • Today our society celebrates mass material consumption which is a good thing for producers • Consistent consumption is required because if it doesn’t the system staggers causing recession and depression • Our productive economy requires us to make consumption a way of life because we need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an increasing rate • Advertising has played a critical role in sustaining mass consumption and is everywhere and in every form such as product placements in movies, commericals, branding, and so on • Consumerism leads to economic growth the more consumption the larger the growth of the economy • The more consumption there is the wealthier a country will become or a producer of that product being consumed more often Unit 4: Climate Change • Four major processes seem to be involved in global climate trends including changes in solar intensity, changes in concentrations of aerosols, increase concentrations of greenhouse gases, and thinning of the ozone layer • The earth experiences a greenhouse effect whereby incoming and re-radiated solar radiation is trapped by GHG • Some naturally occurring GHGs are water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, and nitrous oxide • GHGs are released into the air through transportation, the use of coal to generate electricity, agriculture production such as rice, and livestock generating methane • Current CO2 levels are higher than any over the past 420,000 years • In the case of CO2 levels, the global carbon budget has become unbalance • Over the past 100 years average global temperatures have rised by 0.6 degrees celcius • The global response to climate change has been slow and ineffective such as Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Ozone Depletion • The ozone layer absorbs harmful UV radiation and serves as a radiation shield for living things on Earth • There are two types of ozone-depleting substance which are anthropogenic and natural • Chemicals known as industrial halogens lead to ozone depletion • CFCs are man-made and the most important chlorine-containing gases that destroy ozone • Natural factors that affect ozone levels include the 11-year sunspot cycle, reversals in wind direction over the equator, and volcanic eruptions • When volcanoes erupt they inject dust particles and gases into the stratosphere which causes chemical reactions to speed up destroying ozone directly • Antarctic ozone depletion mainly occurs over theAntarctic during the southern spring where the polar vortex and the formation of polar stratospheric clouds occur which act as a medium for chemical reactions to cause rapid depletion of ozone when sunlight returns • When ozone depletion occurs the upper atmosphere is cooled, normally when ozone absorbs UV radiation it warms the surrounding atmosphere but with the result of ozone depletion it cools • Ozone depletion also may effect global climate indirectly through the loss of phytoplankton by higher levels of UV radiation • These phytoplankton are the basis of the ocean’s food chain and if these populations declined it will lead to increases in CO2 atmospheric concentrations • Increased UV radiation levels due to ozone depletion could cause DNAof living things to become damaged The benefits and challenges associated with the following forms of energy production, specifically in Canada: hydropower and nuclear power • Canada’s primary energy resources include fossil fuels, hydroelectricity, and nuclear power • Fossil fuels include oil, coal, and natural gas • Oil has a high energy value per unit of volume however its combustion releases gas that contribute to climate change, acid precipitation, and smog • If spilled the oil is often toxic to wildlife and can even change wildlife ecosystems • Heavy Oil is oil found in the form of shale or oil sand and its net useful energy is lower than that of oil but it is such an essential fossil fuel for our society • Heavy oil causes several issues remember your essay ryan • Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world and is used to generate electricity but it causes the most air pollution per unit of energy • Natural gas is a cleaner renewable energy than hydrocarbon-based energy but it to causes concerns such as pipeline construction and disposing it through flaring • Hydroelectric power provides 60% of Canada’s electricity via hydropower • These projects are expensive to build but have low operating and maintenance costs • Their life spans are 2 to 10 times greater than those of coal or nuclear plants • They provide no GHGs or air pollutants and help regulate downstream irrigation • However these hydroelectric dams displace people and wildlife, destroy cropland and forests, and interfere with aquatic systems • Nuclear energy generates about 15.5% of Canada’s total energy consumption • It’s an important aspect to Canada’s economy generating 2 billion dollars per year • Nuclear energy emits 1/6 the amount of CO2 per unit of electricity than coal • It is less expensive than fossil fuel energy and creates minimal land disturbance • However if these nuclear plants explode or leak radioactivity it can cause serious health issues and can spread over a wide area without people knowing Unit 5: Environmental Impacts of Agriculture and the Responses • Farming generates numerous environmental impacts on soil, water, and biodiversity components • Soil resource issues, such as loss of organic matter, erosion, compaction, salinization, desertification, and contamination • Water resource issues, such as contamination and irrigation effects • Biodiversity issues, such as wetland drainage, and rangeland grazing • The responses are to encourage farmers to improve their agri-environmental practice especially if the innovative practice is profitable • It is harder where practices cost the farmer more than he/she receives back • Some examples of agri-environmental practices include conservation and zero tillage • Conservation tillage is where for example new corn plants grow among last year’s crop residues which helps retain soil nutrients • Zero tillage is where they pull a large planter across the field to deposit seeds but barely disturb the soil • Other alternative agriculture practices are growing such as organic agriculture but still the numbers remain low Table 6-2 on issues that characterize contemporary North American agriculture • Contemporary North American agriculture can be characterized by economic, environmental, and social issues • Economic issues include technology efficient crop production • Production of food almost totally dependent on oil and gas (to provide chemicals and machinery, and to process and distribute farm products) • Increased crop specialization and reliance on monocultures • Environmental issues include decline in soil productivity • Growing dangers in animal and human health • Loss of wildlife habitat • Social issues include crushing debt burden • Rapid disappearance of family farm, rural life • Growing concern about pesticide safety and soil degradation Biofuels • The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel • The biofuel industry has grown through public awareness of environmental issues, rising oil prices, and the need for a self-sufficient energy source • Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils in a process called transesterification • It is a renewable, biodegradable, and nontoxic always helps in diverting waste products from landfills • This fuel is much less flammable than petroleum-based diesel • Ethanol is made from grains, corn, and potatoes in a process called enzymatic hydrolysis • It is a renewable, biodegradable, and can substitute aromatic hydrocarbons • This fuel evaporates easily and absorbs water molecules so is difficult to transport • The challenges with both of these fuels is that the effect food security and cause a loss of agricultural land for food production • These fuels will help reduce GHGs but the issue is how much agricultural land should be devoted to making fuels instead of food Human activity and effects on agricultural lands • Agriculture and land management practices affect the environmental sustainability of agroecosytems by effecting soil resources, water resources, and biodiversity • Soil resource quality refers to the ability of soil to support rooted plant growth • Factors that affect soil include monoculture cropping, leaving the land fallow, and intensive row cropping result in a loss of organic matter, erosion by wind, water, and tillage, changes in soil structure, salinization, and chemical contamination • Surface and groundwater resources can be affected directly by agricultural use of land • Surface runoff can carry sediment, nutrients, pesticides, and bacteria from agricultural lands and contaminate surface water bodies • Groundwater resources can be contaminated by nutrients or pesticides when rainwater, irrigation water, and snowmelt percolate through the soil • Agriculture impacts the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat through loss of habitat many species become endangered or threatened • Agricultural activities relate to GHG concentrations in four main ways including soil as a natural source and sink of carbon, methane is emitted from livestock and manure, nitrous oxide is released from nitrogen fertilizers, and carbon dioxide is released from the burning of fossil fuels in farming activities • Something about energy input like fossil fuels and GHGs Responses to Environmental Impacts and Change • By promoting sustainability through development of market opportunities for agriculture and its products • Many people believe that an efficient food production system involves growing crops where costs are lowest and shipping internationally to food markets • Alternatives to globalization of the current food system include regional sustainability where developing countries grow food for themselves first and then expo
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