Political Science 2237 - First Exam LECTURE Notes Only

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2137
Ross Gibbons

Environment The aggregate of all the external conditions and influences affecting the life and development of an organism Ecology A branch of science concerned with how living organisms are connected to each other and to their environment; derived from the Greek oikos, household or living place. Ecosystem The organisms of a particular habitat, such as a pond or forest, together with their physical environment. Depending upon their purpose scientists, resource managers or policymakers consider a lake, a watershed or an entire region an ecosystem. Habitat The environment in which an organism lives Sustainable Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations Development to meet their own needs. Limits to Each species operates within environmental limits beyond which survival is not possible; if things are too Survival cold, hot, dry, wet--death results; if change is slow enough a species may adapt and survive. Affluent The richer we are Effluents The more we waste Origins of Humans:  2 billion + years in the making of the earth  2 million +\- years in human evolutionary development  100,000 years of Homo Sapiens  40,000 years of Homo Sapiens Sapiens  Most of the history of our species is of human life as the hunter-gatherers  “Civilization‟ (living in settlements) is recent – perhaps the last 15,000 years Civilization Transitions 1. First Great Transition a. Development of agriculture – about 15,000 years ago b. Hunter gatherers settle in farms and villages c. Life was leisurely, about 15 - 20 % of their time required for food gathering d. A gradual Neolithic Revolution led to: i. Domestication of plants and animals which produced food surpluses ii. Permanent settlements iii. Development of religious and military elites iv. Specialization and the development of cities. e. This was the First Great Transition from hunting and gathering to settled societies based on agriculture....this is known as civilization f. Basic equality in hunter gathering societies was replaced by the rule of self-appointed elites g. These civilizations which developed had a cost: to the many who provided food for the few and to the ecosystems on which they depended. h. A change in methods of obtaining food which required settled societies i. In three core areas: south-west Asia, China, Mesoamerica j. Crop production and pasture provision enabled the provision of greater amounts of food, producing greater populations 2. Second Great Transition a. Industrial revolution – about 300 years ago i. Human and animal energy replaced by fuels ii. Fuel use leads to rapid warming of the earth‟s atmosphere iii. Urbanization b. The Industrial Revolution and urbanization c. Devastating consequences on quality of life for humans and their ecosystems 3. A Third Great Transition? a. A post-industrial world? b. Underway now? c. Globalization extends universalizing forces of Modernity and the Industrial revolution to the balance of the world i. with predictable and unpleasant result ii. paradoxically many now tell government to simultaneously do 'less' and 'more'. The Political Agenda  Politics as usual: always a crisis  But not always a political crisis  Great example is global warming o Occupied the centre stage of media attention and public concern around the time of the 1992 Rio conference on the world environment  Resurfaced recently Human behaviour  Behavioral and Social Crisis  Can the earth support more than 7 billion people? o People consuming resources and energy o At the levels of the average North American? Politics and conflict resolution  Political Efficacy: o Is the political system capable of addressing and solving the major environmental problems?  The nature of brokerage politics o Political problems are addressed by compromise o Often favors the needs of the business community and the market o Political system in Canada dominated by an elite form of corporatism o Shuts out the voices of the weaker and poorer Lest we forget  Sophisticated advanced society with leisure and plenty o Moai statues created to honour ancestors o Moai transport and erection used forests unsustainably  Forest decline damaged ecosystem  Society unable to change direction  By 1722 o Cannibalism (forest decline meant food decline) o War (starvation meant war) o Up to 80% population loss (war and starvation are connected) Questions raised by Easter Island  In terms of sustainability is there a „point of no return‟ beyond which a society cannot recover from fundamental ecological damage?  How can this have happened in a sophisticated society?  If a society is threatened why doesn‟t government provide an answer through the political system?  Is Easter Island‟s story an appropriate metaphor for the environmental challenges facing our planet?  Plants are able to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20), both of which have a low energy content into high energy carbohydrates such as sugar, starch and cellulose Photosynthesis  Light energy is absorbed by green pigments called chlorophyll; oxygen is a by-product of the production of carbohydrates...both plants and animals are able to use the new energy...animals eat plants, or each other, or both...and so energy is passed down the chain Cellular  Cellular respiration: controlled oxidation...the slow burning of carbohydrates Respiration  Harnessed by special chemical compounds  Results: cells divide; leaves grow; reproduction takes place; muscles flex; everything else happens Transpiration The “water cost” of photosynthesis the water loss through leaf pores by evaporation Decomposition  Soil has decomposers (bacteria, fungi, soil insects, worms)  They digest the wastes/dead bodies of other organisms; break down organic molecules and return them to soil of water...the food chain continues Food chains  Survival depends on chains which extract nutrients and energy  The necessities of life include nutrients  Nutrients necessary for life include: 1. large amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus; 2. moderate amounts of calcium, magnesium, sulphur, iron; 3. trace amounts of copper, zinc, boron Nutrient loop  Plants get nutrition from soil, we we nutrition from plants. Decomposers complete this loop.  A delicate system subject to erosion, misuse of fertilizers and pesticides, acid rain, fire Soil  Altered soil chemistry may destroy is biota thereby compromising its capacity to nurture plants  "Civilization can survive the exhaustion of oil reserves but not continuing wholesale loss of topsoil." Principles of Ecology  Each species depends on nature to produce the oxygen, energy and the nutrients  Humans and species are linked in a life cycle dependent on the nutrient loop from healthy topsoil.  Human actions overload the soil; poison it; and force rapid change:  This threatens the nutrient loop and, therefore, the life cycle. Principles of Ecology and Ecosystems  Plants and animals have evolved the ability to deal with the physical conditions to which they are normally exposed, (evolutionary adaptation)  Many, if not most, individual plants and animals can change their tolerances to physical factors if exposed to gradually changing conditions, (acclimation)  There are limits to evolutionary adaptation and acclimation (constraints placed on all organisms by their chemical makeup) Humans and Nature  Human beings are embedded in and supported by natural ecosystems  Human beings and human systems are rapidly destroying these ecosystems  Understanding ecosystems helps to understand our place in the scheme of things  Saving ecosystems saves us Limits to survival  Why and how we survive  Each of us operates within limits of survival  If it is too cold, hot, dry or wet...death!!!  In any species life is an ongoing multitude of interactions between all organisms and their physical environment  E.g. energy is captured from the sun, water flows through land, all plants and animals exchange gases with the atmosphere  Conditions vary/change but often change is slow enough to enable adaptation...adaptation is a key process and a form of self- regulation which returns and renews life...this renewal we call the life cycle Principles of Ecology – Introduction  resources are finite  political will is low  yet environmental problems must be solved  solutions require widespread social, economic, political change  in Western philosophy (including religion and political theory) we often place human beings and human societies above and beyond nature (aka the environment) viewing human issues as separate from those of the environment Deforestation Complete change in land use from forest to agriculture does not include forest left to regrow even if clearcut Soil A process that describes human-induced phenomena which lower the current and/or future capacity of the Degradation soil to support human life (classed as light, moderate, severe, extreme) soil degradation is followed by desertification Forest  Requires loose, reasonably fertile soil Regeneration  Seed sources from nearby stands of trees  Diverse species of pollinating and seed-dispensing birds, insects and mammals  Freedom from recurrent fires, pollution and other destruction Agent  A plant killer, which was used during the Vietnam War to destroy the massive amount of foliage. Orange  Complications in health occur much more frequently to those exposed to the chemical than those who managed to avoid contact. The use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War affected soldier’s and civilian’s health and genetics. The lungs of the earth  Green plants are the producers of life in the ecosystem  Transfer energy through photosynthesis  From physical to biological parts of the system  Oxygen is produced  Our atmosphere was created by green plants Trees and the Ecosystem  Trees anchor, hold soil  Trees provide habitat  Trees are a source of food, shelter and many other products  Trees release water through transpiration (1 tree puts out 000's of gallons water in a day)  Since 8000 BC billions of acres of forest and woodland have been lost to agriculture The Temperate Forest  Trees which survive in a seasonal climate  Have evolved to survive in changing conditions; hardy resilient;  97% of the nutrients necessary for new growth are in the soil  In Canada: we have 10 major climate zones with a vast number of species...climate warming may add another climate zone  197 deciduous species  128 broad/narrow leaf coniferous (evergreen) species The Tropical Forest  Trees which survive in a relatively constant climate  Less ability to survive change (acclimation)  Less history of being under siege from harvesting  Store 90% of their nutrients in the vegetation removed during deforestation  Conditions for tropical forest regeneration: most species are pollinated by birds, insects, animals...often just one or a few species  Biodiversity is essential for the tropical forest  Soils and nutrients are easily washed away...tree seedlings are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity, light The Retreating Rainforest  'If the Amazon is the lungs of the world, then the debt is its pneumonia„  Deforestation in Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Mynamar, the Philippines, Vietnam has accelerated  since 1992 has been known to be much worse than originally thought  Amazon rail Forest of Brazil deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011  Much in Mato Grosso state, centre of soya farming Deforestation and biodiversity  Tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on Earth  About 80% of the world's known biodiversity could be found in tropical rainforests  Losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day  Equates to 50,000 species a year  40% of the animal and plant species in Southeast Asia could be wiped out in the 21st century. Who counts in the forest debate?  Canadian system focuses lobbying at the senior bureaucrat and senior political executive o Often highly effective due to the closed and elite nature of Canadian governance o Canadian are supportive of environmental quality but support counts less in this system  Dryzek notes (pg. 8) „intense conflict over the last three decades regarding logging the last of the old growth forests‟  Debate characterized by 2 discourses: „looming tragedy‟ and the „promethean response‟ Impact on Canada  In Canada, the forest, paper and packaging industries are seeing extremely poor financial results from the recession The Conference Board of Canada (2009) predicts that the forest products industry in Canada will lose another US$675 million to US$1 billion dollars in 2009.  Canadian exports are down dramatically, as the United States is its major trading partner in forest products. Harvesting and the Greenhouse Effect  Tropical/rainforest harvesting has been increased dramatically:  51 million acres per year which is a 79% increase about the loss rate of 1980  Driven in domestic politics by repayment conditions for debt (World Bank, IMF) and by the demands of population growth Greenhouse Effect  Forests act as 'sinks' for absorbing C02  The fewer the trees the less carbon is removed from the atmosphere  Burning wood emits CO2, methane and nitrous oxide  All present in greater amounts in the atmosphere  If the current emissions and deforestation rates continue
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