ENV221 Midterm notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
School of Environment
Karen Ing

Bill McKibben “I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.” Sir Nicholas Stern of Britain, called the "most important gathering since the Second World War, given what is at stake."- Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 The only thing that was agreed on at the Copenhagen summit was that temperatures should not be raised more than two degrees. However, temepratures have now only risen 0.8 degrees and the effects that have come from this increase in temperature are much more severe than scientists originally thought. Indigenous Environmental Network Emissions from the tar sands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to climate change and global warming. As noted by the 1996 Canadian federal Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples in Canada are being, “pushed… to economic, cultural and political extinction.” A recent health study commissioned by Nunee Health Boar Society of Fort Chipewyan has demonstrated evidence that the governments of Alberta and Canada have been ignoring evidence of toxic contamination on downstream indigenous communities. People most at risk of health effects are those who eat food from the land and water. These Dene, Cree and Metiz communities still maintain a subsistence diet of fish and wild game. The battle over the tar sands minig comes down to the fundamental right to exist as Indigenous peoples. “… Aboriginal peoples have had great difficulty maintaining their lands and livelihoods in the face of massive encroachment. This encroachment is not ancient history. In additions to the devastating impact of settlement and development on traditional land-use areas, the actual reserve or community land base of Aboriginal people has shrunk by almost two-thirds since Confederation, and on-reserve resources have largely vanished… Canadian Federal Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) First Nations leadership and community members are feeling pressured by Alberta, the federal government of Canada, and the industry to support the expansion of what ha been called the “greatest environmental and climate crime in history.” Ethics and Economics - the technological advances and resultant population of the Industrial Revolution amplified human impacts on the environment - Consumption of natural resources accelerated, and pollution increased dramatically - Many writers and philosophers of the time criticized industrialization - John Rusik- “little more than laboratories for the distillation into heaven of venomous smokes and smells.” He complained that people prized the material benefits that nature could provide, but no longer appreciated its spiritual and aesthetic benefits - Philosopher movement called transcendentalism. They viewed nature as a direct manifestation of the divine, emphasizing the souls’s oneness with nature and God. They promoted holistic views of nature, and identified a need to experience wild nature and portrayed natural entities as symbols or messengers of a deeper truth (i.e. Thoreau) - John muir admired Thoreau, he became politically active and won fame as a tireless advocate for the preservation of wilderness. He was motivated by the rapid deforestation and environmental degradation - He is associated with the preservation ethic, which holds that we should protect the natural environment in a pristine, unaltered state. He argued that nature deserved protection for its own inherent value - Canadian James Bernard Harkin also believed in preserving the beauty of nature. He believed in the spiritual, healing and restorative power of nature. - Gifford Pinchot took a more anthropocentric view of how and why nature should be valued. Conservation ethic holds that humans should put natural resources to use but also that we have a responsibility to manage them wisely. The conservation ethic uses a utilitarian standard, stating that in using resources, humans should attempt to provide the greatest goods to the greatest number of people for the longest time - Preservation aims to preserve nature for its own sake, conservation promotes the prudent, efficient and sustainable extraction and use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations - Both preservation and conservation are against the prevailing “frontier development ethic,” which held that humans should be masters of nature, and which promoted economic development without regard to its negative consequences - Aldo Leopold began his career as a conservationist. He wrote, “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” - Leopold argued that humans should view themselves and “the land” as members of the same community - In his 1949 essay, “The Land Ethic,” he wrote o All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of independent parts…the land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals or collectively: the land…a land ethoic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it - Deep ecology rests on principles of “self-realization” and bio centric equality. They define “self-realization” as the awareness that humans are inseparable from nature and that the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we consume are both products of the environment and integral parts of us. Bio centric equality is the concept that all living beings have equal value and that because we are truly inseparable from our environment, we should protect all living things as we would protect ourselves. - Some scholars asserted that the degradation of nature and the social oppression of women shared common roots - Ecofeminism argues that the patriarchal structure of society is a root cause of both social and environmental problems. A world view traditionally associated with women is more compatible with nature than a world view traditionally associated with men. They maintain that a tendency to try to dominate and conquer has historically been exercised against both women and the natural environment. - Cipko emerged in the early 1970s as an effort to stop clear-cutting from decimating the vast forests of northern India. - Leader Gaura Devi stated, “the forest is like our mother. You will have to shoot us before you can cut it down.” - The women stood watch over the forest, wrapping their arms around the trees - Another movement is the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, began by paying impoverished village women to plant treed seedlings, was founded in 1977 - Environmental Justice is based on the principle that all people have the right to live and work in a clean, healthy environment; to receive protection from the risks and impacts of environmental degradation, and to be compensated for having suffered such impacts; and to have equitable access to environmental resources of high quality - this movement is fuelled by the fact that the poor and minorities tend to be exposed to a greater share of pollution, this is supported by scientific research - the early environmental movement was made up largely of low-income people and minorities; today the movement has broadened - There are two basic ways that environmental injustice is manifested: o First: a community or group can be denied equitable access to environmental resources o Second: a community or group can be subjected to environmental injustice by having disproportionate risks or costs of pollution or degradation transferred to them - The poor and marginalized groups are directly dependent on the environment for survival and therefore suffer the harshest and most immediate impacts of environmental degradation - Aboriginal groups struggling to maintain a traditional lifestyle have been linked with the environmental justice movement - Economics is the study of how people decide to use scarce resources to provide goods and services in the face of demand for them - Environmental problems are economic problems that can intensify as population and resource consumption increase - An economy is a social system that converts resources into goods, material commodities manufactured for and bought by individuals and businesses; and services, work done for others as a form of business o Oldest type of economy is the subsistence economy - Capitalist market economy o Buyers and sellers interact to determine which goods and services to produce, how much to produce and how these should be produced and distributed o Often contrasted with state socialist economies, or centrally planned economies, in which government determines in a top-down manner how to allocate resources - Economies are open systems integrated with the larger environmental system of which they are a part. Earth in turn, is a closed system, the material inputs Earth can provide to economies are ultimately finite and so is the waste-absorbing capacity of the planet - A conventional economic world view essentially holds that environmental resources are limitless and free an that wastes can be endlessly exported and absorbed by the environment, at no cost - Modern economists belonging to the fast-growing fields of environmental economists, ecological economics, and natural resource accounting explicitly accept that human economies are subsets of the environment and depend crucially on the environment Energy - Primary Energy energy as it is first produced, represents the total requirement for all users of energy (major forms are fossil fuel hydrocarbons and electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric power plants - Secondary Energy produced by processing primary energy, such as electricity produced from coal, and gasoline from crude oil, is energy used by Canadians to heat and cool their homes and workplaces and to operate their appliances, vehicles and factories. - Net Useful Energy is the usable amount of energy available from an energy source over its lifetime. All losses are subtracted, including those automatically wasted and those wasted in the discovery; processing, and transportation phases. Oil has a relatively high net useful energy. - Bioenergy is energy that is made available by the conversion of materials derived from sources of living organisms or their metabolic byproducts. - Biomass is organic matter that can be converted into solid, liquid, or gaseous sources and used in a number of different ways; it supplies 15% of the world’s energy Toxics Impacts  Allergenic- causes allergies  Neurotoxins- damages or destroys nerve tissues  Mutagens- induce or increase the frequency of mutation in an organism  Teratogens- causes information of an embryo or fetus  Carcinogens- cancer causing agent  Endocrine hormone disruptors Toxics of Concern  Lead o Sources include: lead pant, lead gasoline, lead contaminated soils, drinking
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