environment chapter 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Environmental Science
Zachariah Campbell

Environmental Chapter 1: Environment, Health, and Risk • Prior environmental health problems have changed dramatically in the past 25 years The Environmental Crisis • For the first time, humans are altering the basic operations of the earth’s atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere • Between 1/3 and ½ of the land surface has been transformed by human action -carbon dioxide concentration in atmosphere has increased by 30% since Industrial Revolution -more atmospheric nitrogen is fixed by humanity -more than half of all accessible surface fresh water is put to use by humanity -1/4 of bird species are driven to extinction • Declines in frog populations • Declining health of frogs, birds, and thousands of other organisms may be the clearest indication of environmental threats to human health -driving forces are population growth and industrialization • Rate of industrialization is a powerful determinant of environmental transformation Human and Ecosystem Health • Ecosystem health; this idea recognizes that humans are participants in complex ecosystems and that their potential for health is proportional to the health function of those ecosystems. An ecosystem-based health perspective takes into account the health-related services that the natural environment provides and acknowledges fundamental connection between an intact environment and human health • Anthropocentric view of the world; humans are most important of all species and should have dominion over nature Human Health and the Environment • Prevalence of malaria has increased worldwide but no clear relation to climate change has been established • Environmental degradation exaggerates the imbalance between population and resources, increases the costs of development, and worsens the extent and severity of poverty • Interactions between poverty, population growth, and environmental degradation impede sustainable economic development and worsens population health • Important for scientists
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