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Chapter 1

ENV100Y5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: United Nations Environment Programme, Apollo 4

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Monika Havelka

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Intro to Environmental Science
What is environmental science?
-It’s the study of how the natural world works
-How the environment affects us and how we affect it
-The word “environment” comes from the French term “environner”, which means “to surround”
-The environment is the sum total of our surroundings and includes all of the biotic and abiotic
-Our environment also includes the complex webs of scientific, ethical, political, economic and
social relationships/institutions that shape our daily lives
-The fundamental insight of environmental science is that we’re part of the natural world and
that our interactions with other parts of it matter a great deal
-Understanding our relationship with the environment is vital, as we are altering the very natural
systems we need, in ways we don’t yet fully comprehend
-We depend on our environment for air, water, food, shelter and everything else essential for
-Our actions however modify our environment and these actions have enriched our lives,
bringing us longer life spans, better health, mobility, leisure and greater material wealth
-Impacts such as air and water pollution, soil erosion and species extinction can compromise
human well-being, pose risks to human life and threaten our ability to build a society that will
survive and thrive in the long term
-The first picture of the earth was taken in 1967 by the unmanned Apollo 4 spacecraft
-Then on December 24 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts took the first hand-held photographs of Earth
The Blue Marble photograph is widely credited with kick-starting the modern environmental
-The first major oil spill happened in 1967, when the Torrey Canyon ran aground near England
-The 1970s opened with the signing of the first federal environmental legislation, the USA
environmental protection act (1970)
-The first Earth day was also held in 1970 and Greenpeace was founded in 1971
-The UN Environment Programme was established in 1972
-From an astronaut's perspective, it is apparent that the Earth and its natural systems are not
-As our population, technological powers and our consumption of resources increases, so does
our ability to alter our planet and damage the systems that keep us alive
-Our environment is more than water, land and air; it is the sum total of our surroundings
-It includes all the Earth's biotic components, or living things as well as the abiotic components
with which we interact
Our environment has abiotic constituents; the continents, oceans, clouds, rivers and icecaps
-It also has abiotic constituents; animals, plants, forests, soils, people, etc
-It also encompasses the built environment; structures, urban centres, living spaces humans
created, etc
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