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Chapter 1-5

ENVS195 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-5: Integrated Water Resources Management, Fraser River, Drainage Basin

Environmental Studies
Course Code
Erin Joakim

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Sept 17, 2015 Ch 1
Chapter 1 Environment, Resources, and Society
Learning Objectives:
- To appreciate different perspectives related to environment and resources
- To understand different approaches to analyzing complex environmental and socio-economic systems
- To understand the implications for change, complexity, uncertainty, and conflict relative to environmental issues and
- To learn about various aspects that must be addressed to bring science to bear on environmental and resource
- To understand the significance of sustainable development, sustainable livelihoods, and resilience
- To understand the nature of human population growth
- To appreciate the impacts of overconsumption on global ecosystems
- To understand relevant jurisdictional and governance arrangements in Canada
- To eogize that Caadas atual eioet ad soiet ae pat of a gloal sste
- To describe different ways of tracking progress among nations on environmental matters over time
Introduction: Change and Challenge
- Changes in natural and human systems generate challenges which make us question and think about
conditions both today and in the future
- Importance of using both science and social science to inform public decisions and policy making
- Human population is a stress on the planet
- Particular concerns are the challenge posed by global climate change
Defining Environment and Resources
- The environment includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere in
which humans, other living species, and non-animate phenomena exists
- Resources are more specific thought of things like forests, wildlife, oceans, rivers and lakes, and mineral
and petroleum or they are components of the environment with utility for humans, elements of the
environment do not become resources until they have value for human
- Considered an anthropocentric view that value is define relative to human interest, wants, and needs
- Opposite is ecocentric or biocentric values the aspects of the environment simply because they exist,
have value regardless of their immediate value for people
Alternative Approaches to Understanding Complex Natural and Socio-economic Systems
- Systems have environmental, economic, and social components
- Humans have organized knowledge ito disiplies fo oeiee ad aageailit, the eal old is
not organized in that way, nor does it recognize disciplinary boundaries
- Ways to create and apply knowledge:
o Disciplinary understanding is organized around the concepts, theories, assumptions, and
methods associated with an academic discipline. Reflects a belief that specialization will result in
more in-depth understanding. However, the danger of a disciplinary approach is that important
connections with parts of the system not considered by a disciplinary specialist will not be taken
into account
o Multidisciplinary to obtain the in-depth insight of the disciplinary specialist butt also gain the
benefits of a broader view by drawing on specialists from various disciplines. In this manner, both
depth and breadth are achieved through synthesis of the findings of different specialists (many
academic components) after they have completed their analysis
o Cross-disciplinary a disiplia speialist osses the oudaies of othe disciplines and
borrows concepts, theories, methods, and empirical findings to enhance their disciplinary
perspective. However, they do not actively engage with other specialists but simply draws on
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their ideas, approaches, and findings. (can involve misunderstandings of the borrowed
o Interdisciplinary To overcome the limitations of the previous three approaches,
interdisciplinary investigations involve disciplinary specialists crossing other disciplinary
boundaries and engaging with other specialists form the very beginning of the research. This
requires more time as the team must meet in order to work
o Transdisciplinary extends the interdisciplinary perspective by seeking a holistic understanding
that crosses or transcends boundaries of many disciplines
Science-Based Management of Resources and Environment
- Understanding the insight from science can be used to inform management and decision-making
- Guidelines for effective management of resources:
o Focus the science on key issues, and communicate it in a policy-relevant form (money is a
o Use scientific information to clarify issues, identify potential management options and estimate
consequences of decisions
o Clearly and simply communicate key scientific findings to all participants
o Evaluate whether or not the final decision is consistent with scientific information
o Avoid advocacy of any particular solution (scientists should be equal)
- The dilemma is that nobody is value-free or value-neutral so hard to suggest that scientists should be
- Difference between being perceived to be open-minded in defining a problem or identifying alternative
solutions and being known to uphold a particular view or position and consistently producing findings that
support only that one particular view or position
- Further complications occur when there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion and scientists are
asked to provide a professional opinion. The scientist will be viewed as more credible if they have no
record of advocating a particular perspective (complex of biases)
Sustainable Development, Sustainable Livelihoods, And Resilience
Sustainable Development
- Emerged in the late 1980s though the work of the world commission an environment and development
- Directed to pursue development and that meets the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs
- Attention is given to meeting basic human needs, achieving equity and justice for present and future
generations, realizing self-empowerment, protecting the integrity of biophysical systems
- Emphasises a system of governance and management characterized by openness, transparent,
decentralization, and accessibility
- Related to specific places or resources sectors, sustainable development seeks to ensure that economic,
environment, and social aspects are considered together
- thik gloall ad at loall
- the planet is a single system in which actions in one part often have implications for other parts
- frustration comes from those who believe that sustainable development is so vague that it can be defines
in ways to suit different and often conflicting interests
Sustainable Livelihoods
- emphasizes the conditions necessary to ensure that basic human needs (food and shelter) are satisfied
- however, it is criticized for being too anthropocentric
- strategies for sustainable livelihoods usually aim to create diverse opportunities, efficiency, and
sufficiency relative to basic needs
- the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure
- the ultimate goal is to move a system into some ideal state and sustain it in that state
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- in striving to use resource systems efficiently, one outcome can be that desirable redundancies are
eliminated since the goal is to retain only features with immediate value. The ultimate outcome is a
drastic reduction in resilience
- The oe ou optiize eleets of a ople sste of huas ad atue fo some specific goal, the
oe ou diiish that sstes esiliee. A die fo effiiet optial state outoe has the effet of
akig the total sste oe uleale to shoks ad distuaes
- any proposal for sustainable development that does not expliitl akoledge a sstes esiliee is
simply not going to keep delivering goods
The Global Picture
- organisms are becoming extinct at rates unsurpassed for the last 65 million years
- seas no longer filled with infinite of fish
- forests are dwindling at unprecedented rates
- atmosphere is changing in composition and making the spectre of significant climate change a reality
- many of the changes are non-linear, and once they start, the processes of degradation will increase
- population increased when humans learned how to exploit the vast energy supplies of past
photostheti atiit lai do as oal ad oil i the eaths ust
- estimated 4.3 people are born every second around the world
- economic growth would trigger reductions in fertility
- Population age structure is also important. If two countries have similar populations bit differing age
structures, they can have a dramatic impact on future population growth
- Total fertility rates represent the average the number of children each woman have over her lifetime. If
the fertility rate is 2.0, then theoretically this will lead to stable populations as children replace their
- Relationship between economic growth and population that occurs in 4 main phases
o High equilibrium (both death and birth rates are high so little population growth (pre-industrial
o High expanding (advances in heath care result in declining mortality rates but show no decrease
in birth rates leading to high population growth)
o Low expanding (birth rates start to fall as the benefits of increased income begin to erode the
advantage of having large families)
o Low equilibrium (birth rates and death rates are in balance as a result of the decline in birth
- Rapid economic development followed by corresponding adjustments in birth rates
- A strong relationship was seen between some indictors of environment degradation and economic
growth. As economic growth increases, so does environment degradation until a threshold is reached
- The richest 20% of the olds populatio ae esposile fo oe tha 75% of old osuptio
- Energy consumption is also very unequally distributed
- More than a third of the global population does not have access to electricity, but demands are growing
- Canada is also one of the top per capita consumers of energy, with an even larger consumption rate than
- No direct relationship between electricity consumption and human development
- It is possible to have high standards of living without excessive energy consumption
- Gross national product is used to compare the market value of all goods and services produced for final
consumption in an economy during one year
- The stresses on the planetary life support system are a consequence of overconsumption and the
resulting pollution, as well as overpopulation and the resulting poverty (puts pressure on the planetary
carrying capacity
- Critical thresholds are being reached and surpassed
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