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Environmental Science
Course Code
Carl Mitchell

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Chapter One: An Introduction to Environmental Science
Our environment is more than just our surroundings:
Environment – the sum total of our surroundings, including all of the living
and non living things with which we interact
oBiotic – living things (animals, plants, etc)
oAbiotic – non living things (oceans, continents, etc)
oIncludes structures, urban centres, living space humans created, etc
oIncludes complex webs of scientific, ethical, political, economic, social
relationships and institutions
oHumans exist within the environment and are a part of the
interactions that characterize it
Environmental Canada – the department of the federal government that is
mandated to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment, to
conserve our renewable resources, and protect our water resources
International relations, politics, ethics, business management, economics,
social equity, engineering, law enforcement – all play a role in managing and
protecting environment
Environmental science explores interactions between humans and the physical and
biological world:
Humans depend greatly on environment for air, water, food, etc
Many actions have enriched our lives but at the same time have damaged the
natural systems that sustain us
Also poses risks to human life and threaten our ability to build a society that
will survive in long term
Environmental science – the study of how the natural world works, how our
environment affects us, and how we affect our environment

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Natural resources are vital to our survival:
Natural resources – any of the various substances and energy sources we
need in order to survive
Renewable natural resources – a natural resource that is virtually unlimited
or that is replenished by the environment over relatively short periods of
hours to weeks to years
oSome are perpetually renewed such as sunlight
oOthers renew more slowly and become non-renewable if we use them at
a rate that exceeds the rate at which they are renewed or replenished
(ex: plants)
Resource management – strategic decision making about who should extract
resources and in what ways, so that resources are used wisely and not wasted
oBasic premise of renewable resource management is to BALANCE rate
of withdrawal from stock with rate of renewal or regeneration
Stock – the harvestable portion of a resource
oStock can be depleted if harvested at faster rate than it can be
Stock-and-flow resources – renewable natural resources, whose effective
management depends upon balancing the rate of withdrawal from the stock
with the rate of renewal or replenishment of the stock
Non-renewable natural resource – a natural resource that is in limited supply
and is formed much more slowly than we use it
oManagement of non-renewable resources demands on reuse,
conservation, etc
Human population growth has shaped our resource use:
Four periods of societal change appear to have triggered remarkable increases
in population size increasing environmental impacts
o1) Paleolithic Period (or Old Stone Age)

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2.5 million years ago
When early humans gained control of fire and began to shape
and use stones as tools with which to modify their environment
Hunter gatherer lifestyle
o2) Neolithic Period (Agricultural Revolution)
10 000 to 12 000 years ago
settled agricultural way of life
Rural life, animal powered agriculture, manufacturing by
o3) Industrial Revolution
Began in mid 1700s
Urban society powered by fossil fuels
Improved life in many ways but also marked beginning of
industrial scale pollution and environmental and social
Air and water quality declined, workplace health and safety
o4) Medical-Technological Revolution
Present today
Advances in medicine and sanitation, explosion of
communication technology, shift to modern agricultural
practices known as β€œGreen Revolution”
Allowed people to live longer, healthier lives
Facing new environmental challenges as result of technological
advances (ex: impact of biotechnology on food production, could
bring end to hunger)
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