Environmental Chapter 5, 15, 16.doc

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Environmental Science
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Zachariah Campbell

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Environmental Chapter 5: Population, Consumption, and Human Health • 1992; Union of Concerned Scientists issued a World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity that called attention to threats to life-sustaining natural resources • Without stabilization of both population and consumption, good health for many people will remain elusive, developing countries will find it impossible to escape poverty, and environmental degradation will worsen Population • Took 12 years for the population to rise from 5 billion to 6 billion • Over the past 200 years, Western nations have made a gradual demographic move from high to love birth rates and death rates • Public health measures and improved nutrition in developing countries have rapidly lowered death rates • Declines in birth rates in developing countries have been uneven and have usually lagged behind declines in death rates • UN predicts although rapid declines in fertility are expected, we will still see substantial increases in the world population Interactions between Population, Consumption, the Environment, and Health • 10 000 years ago; 5 million people inhabited the earth; few biological systems were damaged by human activity • Current demands are depleting many of the earth’s natural resources and ecological services • Impact of humans on their environment is related to population size, per capita consumption, and the environmental damage caused by the technology used to produce what is consumed • 1.2 billion people living in developed countries consume 67% of all resources and generate 75% of all waste, even though they are only 20% of the world’s population • Human activity has already transformed about 50% of the earth’s surface, with 10% of land degraded form forest or rangeland into desert, productive capacity of 25% of all agricultural land has already been degraded • Unproductive land and food scarcity contribute to malnutrition • In developing areas, declining availability of water from aquifers threatens food security of 1 billion+ • Water scarcity also impairs health, as freshwater supplies for human use become polluted with toxic materials and pathogens • Growing evidence that global warming is occurring, increasing the prospect of flooded coastal areas and cities, disruptions of agriculture, increasingly severe storm damage, and significant extension of the range of insects and other vectors of disease • Wealthy nations provide environments that often protection against infectious disease through preventive measures such as vaccination, water purification, sanitary sewage disposal, and control of insect vectors • To the extent that rapid population growth and large family size hamper economic development by perpetuating poverty, high growth rates also contribute to poor health Facing the Challenges of Poor Health, Rapid Population Growth, and High Consumption Levels • Need reproductive health and prevention • Family planning is necessary to allow a pattern of healthy childbearing -also reduces risk among women and of death among infants and children • Population growth will then decline to manageable levels • Better reproductive health in poor countries will not be enough to save our natural systems • Both developed and developing countries must introduce economic systems and new technologies that are more efficient, generate less waste, and require less consumption of natural resources • Government and private sector need to integrate strategies into economic life that will protect the environment • Way to economic progress is more efficiency and less consumption • Limitation of greenhouse-gas emissions, critical to climatic stabilization, can be addressed by less reliance on and more efficient use of fossil fuels • Ecofriendly sources of energy is needed -these and other measures slow decline in biodiversity • Government and international development agencies should eliminate environmentally unsound development projects and subsidies for a large array of ecologically unsound practise and products • Need family planning and reproductive health in developing countries, and decreased consumption by wealthy countries Chapter 15: Vulnerable Populations • Children and workers and particularly vulnerable to toxic hazards in the environment • Vulnerability of infants and children reflects their unique patterns of exposure to environmental hazards, coupled with the inherent fragility of their development processes • Workers’ vulnerability is a consequence of the fact that their exposures to toxins are often magnitudes higher than those of the general population -may also be exposed to newly developed and inadequately tested toxic materials and hazardous processes months or years earlier than the general public; thus, new disease of toxic origin are often first recognize in this group • Traditional risk assessment usually ignores these two groups Children • Most serious diseases confronting children in the US are a group of chronic, disabling, and sometimes life-threatening conditions termed the ‘new pediatric morbidity’ -asthma, childhood cancer, neurodevelopmental and behaviour disorders, diseases caused by tobacco smoke, and congenital defects of reproductive organs • 10-20% of these diseases are of familial or genetic origin -some are consequences of obstetrical difficulties, infections, or trauma • Children’s exposures to toxic chemicals in the environment cause or contribute to the causation of certain of these diseases • Lead is recognized as a significant cause of neurobehavioural impairment, producing measurable disability (loss of IQ) at very low levels in blood, as well as alteration of behaviour • Exposure in utero to PCBs and methylmercury can also cause loss of intelligence • Certain pesticides appear to interfere with brain development and reproductive function Children’s Unique Vulnerability • Have disproportionately heavy exposures to environmental toxicants • Drink more water, eat more food, and breathe more air than adults • Implication of these findings is that children will have substantially heavier exposures than adults to any toxicants present in water, food, or air • Their exposure is further magnified by hand-to-mouth behaviour and their play close to the ground
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