Chapter 1

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Environmental Science
Carl Mitchell

Chapter 1An Introduction to Environmental Science Our environment is more than just our surroundings y Our environment is more than water land and air it is the sum total of our surroundings y It includes all of Earths biotic components or living things as well as the abiotic components or nonliving things with which we interact y Our environment has abiotic physical constituentsthe continents oceans clouds rivers and icecaps that you can see in the photo of Earth from space y It also has biotic constituentsthe animals plants forests soils and people that occupy the landscape y In a more inclusive sense it also encompasses the built environmentthe structures urban centres and living spaces humans have created In its most inclusive sense our environment includes the complex webs of scientific ethical political economic and social relationships and institutions that shape our daily lives y People commonly use the term environment in a narrower senseof a nonhuman or natural world apart from human society This connotation is unfortunate because it masks the important fact that humans exist within the environment and are a part of the interactions that characterize it y Consequently the mandate of Environment Canada is equally comprehensive to preserve and enhance the quality of Canadas natural environment conserve our renewable resources and protect our water resources Environmental science explored interactions between humans and the physical and biological world y Environmental science is the study of how the natural world works how our environment affects us and how we affect our environment Natural resources are vital to our survival y Specifically there are limits to many of our natural resources the various substances and energy sources we need to survive y Natural resources that are replenishable over short periods are known as renewable natural resources y Some renewable resources such as sunlight wind and wave energy are perpetually renewed and essentially inexhaustible Others renew themselves more slowly and they may become nonrenewable if we use them at a rate that exceeds the rate at which they are renewed or replenished y Resource management is strategic decision making and planning aimed at balancing the use of a resource with its protection and preservation The basic premise of renewable resource managementboth living and nonlivingis to balance the rate of withdrawal from the stock with the rate of renewal or regeneration y The stock is the harvestable portion of the resource If the stock is being harvested or withdrawn at a faster rate than it can be replenishedfaster than trees can be seeded and grow to maturity or faster than precipitation
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