Living in the Environment - Ch. 1
Environmental Problems: An Introduction and Overview
1-1 Living More Sustainably
Environment is everything that affects a living organism. Ecology is a biological science that studies the
relationships between a living organism and their environment. Natural world (biosphere), culture world
(culturesphere). Environmentalism is a social movement towards protecting the Earth’s life support
systems for us and other species. The sun and the Earth’s natural capital keep us alive. Economists
(capital = wealth), Analogy (capital = solar energy) and creates wind power/hydropower/biomass.
Natural resources or capital = air, water, soil, energy, minerals. Biological income = renewable supplies
of wood, fish, grassland for grazing, underground water for drinking and irrigation. Carrying capacity is
the max number of organisms that can be maintained in an area without degrading the environment.
Sustainability is the ability of a system to survive for an extended period of time. An environmentally
sustainable society meets current needs of its people for food, clean water and air, shelter, etc. without
affecting future generation’s needs.
1-2 Population Growth, Economic Growth, Economic Development, and Globalization
The human population is growing fast (80 million/yr). Economic growth is an increase in the capacity of a
country to provide people with goods and services, measured by changing GDP (gross domestic
product). Economic development is the improvement of living standards by economic growth. Whether
a country is developing or developed is determined by their degree of industrialization and per capital
GDP. Ex. Developed = Canada, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe. Developing = Africa, Asia,
Latin America. Globalization is the process of social, economic, and environmental global changes that
lead to an increasingly interconnected world.
A resource is something we need or want. A perpetual resource is renewed continuously, ex. solar
energy/ wind tides and flowing water. A renewable resource can be replenished rapidly through natural
processes, ex. Fresh air, water, wild animals, fertile soil and biodiversity. Ecological footprint is the
amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply each person or population with the
renewable resources they use and to absorb or dispose of the wastes from such resource use.