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Environmental Science 1021F/G Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Human Taxonomy, Happy Planet Index, Exponential Growth

Environmental Science
Course Code
Christie Stewart
Study Guide

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Environmental Science Midterm Notes
What Is The Environment?
All biotic and abiotic factors that act on an organism, population, or ecological
oBiotic factors: (alive) organisms, their food, and their interactions
oAbiotic factors: (not alive) e.g. sunlight, soil, air, water, climate, and pollution
The biotic and abiotic factors influence survival and development
Environment Issues
Ecology: focuses on living things and their interactions with each other and their
surroundings; resource limits, coexistence, problems, causes, and solutions
oEcology means household (meaning the earth)
Precautionary principle: taking action to prevent a problem using evidence, before
problem exists
Priorities and Worldviews
Important environmental issues are often determined and influenced by:
oPrevailing social attitudes and dominant groups
Hegemonic power – control or domination by one person or organization
E.g. political group in power
oCultural practices, traditions, values and education
Paradigm – pattern or model or concept of how something is viewed
oExist in different disciplines; shape culture, history, environment, politics,
Paradigm shift – how a set of theories or hegemonic set of ideas gives way to another
over time
oOccurs when the current paradigm is challenged leading to theories that provide
better explanation; science develops due to the challenge of paradigms
Worldviews: Two Basic Groups
1. Individual-centred or atomistic
oHuman centered (anthropocentric)
oLife centered (biocentric)
2. Earth centered or holistic
oEcosystem or ecosphere centered (ecocentric)
Anthropocentric Worldview
Humans are the center of the world
Place in history
oSecular, individualism
oBasis of French and American revolutions
Planetary worldview, human-centred, western industrial/post-industrial
Four themes
o1. Dualism – humans are separate from nature
o2. Hierarchy – humans are most important
o3. Utility – nature as a resource for humans; intrinsic vs. instrumental value
Intrinsic: something has intrinsic value if it is good on its own (i.e. not as a
means for acquiring something else
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Instrumental: having assets is good only to the extent that they can be
used to get something else
o4. Stewardship – humans in charge of taking care of nature for other species and
Understanding, controlling and managing the planet for our benefit means success
Assumption: economic growth is good and unlimited
Healthy environment depends on healthy economy
Earth’s resources are unlimited and indefinitely renewable with science and technology
(technological fix)
This way of thinking dominates global economies
Technology focused issues: biofuels, hydrogen power, energy efficiency, CO2 reduction
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them – Albert
Biocentric Worldview
We need the earth, the earth does not need us
Earth’s resources are limited and to be sustainably used by all species (intrinsic value)
Not all economic growth is beneficial
Earth-degrading growth should be discouraged/prohibited
Healthy economy depends on a healthy environment
We will never have enough information to manage the planet because it is too complex
Ecocentric Worldview
All living and non-living components of earth have right to exist in a natural state (no
human interference)
Moral values and rights for all organisms and ecosystems
Resources are limited
Not all economic growth and technological advancement is beneficial
Humans should adapt to the needs of the earth
Opposite of anthropocentric
A Paradigm Shift: The Environmental Movement
Environmental awareness
Environmental impact of population boom, technology development, energy use shift,
politics, economics
Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” focused on the silence of birds due to pesticide
Human Timeline
First modern humans were homo sapiens sapiens
Hunter Gatherers
Resource use for survival only; nomadic
Directly connected with nature
Shared duties and population controlled
Limited life span (34 years)
Energy sources: solar (wind/water/plants), fire, muscle
Environmental impact: low
Nomadic populations had to move frequently
Most of their days focused on carrying out duties that would support basic survival
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Agricultural Revolution
Domestication of plants and animals (control & manage), no longer had to move, so
populations grew due to reliable supply of food
Subsistence farming; reliable supply and trade
Irrigation, plow invention
Urbanization, competition and conflict
Cultural shift: duties and view of nature
Energy sources: solar, fire, muscle power, animal power
Environmental impact: increasing
Gender split of duties
Industrial Revolution
Substitution of coal for wood
Non-renewable fossil fuels use
Steam engine, oil, natural gas
Large scale factories; no pollution control
Fertilizers and plant breeding = more food
Increased production and consumption
Exploding population
Urban expansion
Began first in Europe
Major changes occurred in this period that changed the earth
Energy sources: solar, muscle and animal power, fossil fuels, metals
Environmental impact: degradation and destruction
Exponential growth of population
Drop in population due to black plague
What Will Limit Global Population Size?
1. Decreased reproduction
oSocio-economic and cultural factors
Higher education, postpone/control childbearing, female employment
status, children not needed for family labour, urbanization, decreased
infant mortality, older age of marriage, cost, pension availability, changes
in religious or cultural norms
2. Increased mortality
Most growth will be in developing nations where fertility rates are high
Stages of Demographic Transition
Stage 1 (Preindustrial)
oTotal population fairly low and steady since birth and death rates are high and
fairly equal
Stage 2 (Industrializing)
oDramatic decrease in death rates due to better health care, better food, etc.
oBirth rates fall slightly
oTotal population starts to grow
Stage 3 (Mature Industrial)
oDeath rates still decrease
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