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ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

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Environmental scientists examine the physical, chemical, and biological ... An oxymoron? Depends on how development' is defined. Does it mean growth' or improvement? ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE


1
FUNDAMENTALS OF
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
2
A tiny inhabitable oasis in a sea of
inhospitable space
The Earth and its natural environments are not
unlimited
3
ENVIRONMENAL SCIENCE
Environmental scientists examine the physical,
chemical, and biological conditions of the
environment, human impacts on the natural
environment, and the effect of the environment on
all organisms. INTERDISCIPLINARY Biology Geog
raphy Oceanography Ecology GIS Engineering
Physics Economics Atmospheric
Science Ethics Sociology Geology Anthropology
Computer Science Archaeology Chemistry Politica
l Science History Biogeochemistry Law Medicine

4
Humans are merely a part of nature
We depend on our environment for air, water, food
and shelter.
We alter our environment intentionally
and unintentionally
5
Humans, like other organisms, require renewable
natural resources to survive
6
Renewable and Non-renewable Resources
7
Problem Human Population Growth
8
Human Impacts on the Natural Environment
Consider the southern Alberta landscape
How much undisturbed mixedgrass prairie is left?
Is there such a thing as a natural environment
today?
9
Atmospheric Change
10
ACID
RAIN
11
Climate
Change
12
OZONE DEPLETION
ftp//toms.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/eptoms/images/global/
Y2004/FULLDAY_GLOB.PNG
13
ARCTIC HAZE
14
Persistent Organic Pollutants (eg. PCBs)
Source AMAP
15
DEFORESTATION
Source Greenpeace
16
SOIL EROSION
17
Invasive Species
Purple loosestrife
Crested Wheat Grass
Zebra mussels
18
Depleted Fish Stocks
Photo CBC
19
Water
Pollution
Photo Steven Holt
20
Environmental Science
vs. Environmentalism
21
Environmentalism
  • A social, political and ethical movement and
    lifestyle concerned with protecting the
    environment and using its resources wisely
  • Not all environmentalists are activists
  • Not all environmental scientists are
    environmentalists

22
Lifestyle choices
Activism
23
An Essay on the Principle of Population Thomas
Malthus, 1798
Population, when unchecked, increases in a
geometrical ratio.
Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical
ratio. An important scientific essay (cited by
Darwin) Recommendations interpreted as classist.
24
  • Silent Spring
  • Rachel Carson, 1962
  • Often cited as the founder of
  • environmentalism
  • Investigated the deleterious effects of DDT on
  • water courses, wildlife and human beings
  • Human beings are merely a part of nature,
  • distinguished by our ability to alter it
  • Called on humankind to take on this view of the
  • natural world

25
  • Humanity as Part of Nature
  • A new way of thinking ?
  • Many religions of indigenous peoples are
    animist,
  • devoting spirits to animals, plants, rocks and
    rivers
  • Eastern religions (eg. Confucianism) discuss the
  • importance of conservative environmental
    stewardship
  • Human evolutionary theory is based on the
    assumption
  • that humans are affected by their environments
    like any other
  • organism
  • Humanity/Nature dichotomy (form of dualism)
    confined
  • mainly to Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Greek
    philosophy

26
The Earth Small and vulnerable? Apollo 8
photograph
Such photos gave a global perspective to a
youthful environmental movement
27
The Population Bomb Paul R. Ehrlich, 1968
(Stanford) Malthusian predictions Human beings
were to morbidly exceed Earths carrying
capacity by the 1970s Erroneous assumptions,
inaccurate prophesies More irresponsible
solutions Raised popular awareness of a
serious issue facing humankind
28
The Tragedy of the Commons Garrett Hardin, 1968
Thesis Freedom in a commons brings ruin to
all (ie., the best strategy for individuals
conflicts with the common good.) Controversial
Argues for controls on environmentally-detrimen
tal aspects of human behaviour, including
reproduction
Image source Nikiforuk Hawaleshka, Readers
Digest, 06/09/04
29
Access to education, womens rights and
development are now known to be key to
controlling population growth
30
Sustainability The ability of an ecosystem to
maintain ecological processes and functions,
biodiversity and productivity over time
(Kauffmann et al. 1994)
Sustainable Development
An oxymoron? Depends on how development is
defined Does it mean growth or
improvement? To meet the needs of today,
without foreclosing the achievement of
tomorrows needs (IUCN et al. 1980) Improving
quality of life without exceeding ecological
carrying capacity Problem Wealthy nations
already overconsume!
31
  • Principles of Sustainability
  • Ecological sustainability
  • Environmental scientists study how ecosystems
  • support us and how we can damage them
  • Carrying Capacity
  • (i)The capacity of an ecosystem to support
    healthy
  • organisms while maintaining its productivity,
  • adaptability and capability for renewal.
  • (ii) The number of people who can be supported
    by
  • the environment over time (difficult to
    calculate).

32
Ecological Footprint Based on estimate of amount
of land needed to sustain activities /
population Shrinking globally (now lt1.5
ha/person globally) Increasing in Canada/US (now
4.27-5.10 ha/person) Consumption must be
controlled in high-income countries for
sustainability objectives to be achieved
2. Social Sustainability Sustainable development
initiatives are socially sustainable if they do
not exceed a communitys tolerance for change
33
  • Economic Sustainability
  • Resources must be used in ways that do not
    permanently
  • damage the environment and must not impair the
  • replenishment capacity of renewable resources.
  • (Government of Canada, 1996)
  • Deep Ecology
  • Non-human species are as valuable as humans.
  • The interest of wild nature must sometimes be
    chosen
  • over human well-being.
  • Goes further than sustainable development

34
Ecofeminism and Social Ecology Domination of
nature and of women are systemically related Hier
archy and domination must be eliminated from
human society to avoid ecological extinction
  • Gaia Hypothesis
  • Holistic, rather than reductionist view of
    systems
  • Universe is a series of interconnected,
    interacting wholes
  • Earth as a single, indivisible, self-regulating
  • process (Gaia Lovelock 1988)

35
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
36
Precautionary Principle In the face of threats
of serious or irreversible damage to the
environment, a lack of full scientific certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing
cost-effective measures to prevent environmental
deterioration. Earth Summit, 1992, Rio de
Janeiro Signed by Canada
37
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38
Problems with the Conventional Application of
the Scientific Method (Kriegel et al., 2001)
Assumption that phenomena under consideration
are driven primarily by independent action of a
few causal factors Narrow definition of
uncertainty Lack of sensitivity analysis Type
I, II amd III Error Standards Disciplinary
divisions
39
TYPE I ERROR
To conclude that a relationship or difference
exists, when it truly does not.
TYPE II ERROR
Failure to detect a relationship or difference
that does exist. Potential 20 error rate, using
current conventions !!!
TYPE III ERROR
The scientist receives the right answer to the
wrong question.
READINGS Chapter 1 Kriebel et al. 2001. The
Precautionary Principle in Environmental Science.
Environmental Health Perspectives. 109(9)
40
Giving Value to the Environment
  • Grounds for conserving nature
  • Utilitarian justification
  • A healthy environment, ecosystem or the Earths
    biosphere provide individuals with economic
    benefits
  • or is directly necessary for survival
  • I didnt take the g.d. fish out of the
    water!!!
  • Hon. John C. Crosbie
  • Fisheries Minister, 1992

41
  • Overfishing leads to stock decline
  • 2. Turned to other sources of revenue

A complex environmental/socio-political issue
42
Water temperatures
Strong Labrador current can exacerbate
overfishing problem (water too cold)
Predator population
High seal populations can reduce cod stocks
Ecological damage
Shrimp trawling/dragging damages the ocean
floor, destroying fish breeding grounds
43
  • Ecological justification
  • Even if individuals do not benefit directly,
    components of the biosphere provide functions
    necessary for the persistence of life

Eg. Wetland preservation Wetland complexes
filter contaminants Promotes health of wildlife
and humans, but protection does not always
directly benefit individuals
44
Oak Ridges Moraine, ON
  • Developers stand to make millions
  • There is a movement to stop them because the
  • moraine serves an important ecological function
  • (acts as water filter)

45
SOURCE TORONTO STAR
46
  • Aesthetic Justification
  • Nature is beautiful and beauty is of profound
    importance and value to people
  • Psychological, medical and social benefits of
    wild spaces
  • Wilderness as a sacred space

47
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50
  • Moral justification
  • Elements of the environment have a right to exist
  • 1982 United Nations World Charter for Nature
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Moral responsibility to sustain nature for future
  • generations (environmental stewardship)
  • Land is not an economic commodity to be used
  • and discarded
  • Examines rights of animals, plants, non-living
  • things and large systems important to our life
    support
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