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Geography 210: Physical Geography

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Title: Geography 210: Physical Geography

Geography 210 Physical Geography Environmental
  • Lecture 20 Summary

Game is almost over
  • Lab Friday 01 Dec Review for final
  • Itll pay to be there ?
  • Remember, final lab grade is best 7 of 8
  • FINAL EXAM Tues 05 Dec 930-1118 am
  • SEIs

  • Solving our environmental problems will help
    build a more secure sustainable future
  • As university graduates you will take on
    responsibility of transferring environmental
    knowledge taking responsible leadership

  • present practices of energy and resource
    consumption are non-sustainable
  • What on Earth will we leave for future

  • An estimated 80 percent of global fish stocks are
    now fished at or beyond their sustainable limit.
  • Despite the existence of alternative sources,
    more than 90 percent of paper still comes from
    trees - eating up about one fifth of the total
    wood harvest worldwide.
  • Around 1.7 billion people worldwide - more than a
    quarter of humanity are entering the "consumer
  • adopting the diets, transportation systems, and
    lifestyles that were limited to the rich nations
    of Europe, North America, and Japan during most
    of the last century.
  • In China alone, 240 million people have joined
    the ranks of consumers - a number that will soon
    surpass that in the United States.

  • We could have a sustainable world of 8 billion
    with the average standard of living now found in
    Europe for all people by
  • controlling population growth
  • increasing fuel efficiency
  • increasing reliance on renewable energies
  • controlling pollution
  • Scrubbers
  • Reforestation
  • Carbon sequestration
  • promoting environmental protection

Less is more
  • Consumption
  • "You don't own your possessions, your possessions
    own you.
  • Urban redevelopment
  • Less land consumed
  • Driving Less
  • Increased cash-flow
  • More time
  • Better health
  • auto-related injuries In 2002
  • 2.9 million nationally
  • 42,815 deaths
  • 800 / week
  • 1,400 in Ohio.
  • Less stress
  • decreased freedom?

Books on
more consumption ? more happiness
  • About a third of Americans report being "very
    happy," the same share as in 1957, when Americans
    were only half as wealthy.
  • Today, Americans are among the most worked people
    in the industrial world
  • nine more weeks on the job each year than the
    average European.

Annual Conference of The Club of Rome in
co-operation with The Arab Thought Forum "In
Search for Common Ground for Peace and
Development8-10 October, 2003Amman, Jordan
Final Statements from Annual Conference of The
Club of Rome
  • Although there was hope that the process of
    globalizing markets would lead to more equity and
    the socio-economic inclusion of the poor, this
    has not come true. On the contrary, we are facing
    the crucial fact that the rich have become
    richer, the poor poorer.
  • In the US, the top 5 percent has more wealth than
    the remaining 95 percent of the population put

Special ReportThe 400 Richest Americans09.21.06,
1000 AM ET
Some Thoughts
  • Optimistic view
  • as the human population approaches the actual
    carrying capacity, there will be sufficient
    signals and we will collectively act on those
    signals in such a way as to prevent an overshoot
    and collapse from occurring.
  • Evidence suggests we may have reached carrying
    capacity not just through population growth, but
    by increased consumption

  • signals of overshoot
  • increasing prices for natural resources, which
    encourage a reduction in use through
    conservation, recycling, and increased
  • fossil fuels we rely on for most of our energy
    are produced too slowly
  • we cannot achieve a steady state condition for
    these energy resources.
  • Thus, we will ultimately have to get all of our
    energy from sustainable sources such as solar,
    wind, and nuclear sources (nuclear fusion rather
    than fission, whose waste products are too
  • Solar is the most attractive resource

  • example of how this adaptation can work
  • the case of the 1970s energy crisis
  • rapid changes occurred in response to the
    decrease in availability of petroleum.
  • Unfortunately, most of these changes were
    reversed shortly after, once the flow of oil from
    the OPEC countries continued.
  • we can change if we are convinced that we must
  • especially if it is economically favorable to

So now what do I do?
lean onsciencebut buyer beware!
  • Overview synthesis
  • (Final exam review in lab)

Scope of course a weekly outline
  • Lecture reading Lab
  • Fundamental Earth geography Mapping global
  • Water in Earth System OSU wetlands field trip
  • Global energy balance temperature Ice albedo
  • Energy environment Clean Fuels Ohio
  • Demography Africa (Dr. Hull) ltltnonegtgt
  • Biogeography forests Ohio forests
  • Food production environment Ohio agroecoystem
  • Global warming air pollution Critically
    engaging issues
  • Paleoclimatology methods ltltnonegtgt
  • Costs benefits of sustainability Review for
    final exam

RECALL General Objectives
  • Environmental issues through geography
  • The study of people and their relationship to
    their environment
  • Understand processes properties of Earths
    physical environment - atmosphere, hydrosphere,
    and biosphere
  • Evaluate the use of Earths resources
  • THUS assess the implications of our choices,
    focusing on a range of critical concerns that are
    the most global in nature affect us all
  • Global warming, or enhanced greenhouse effect
  • Water resources
  • Population food production

Six main themes through text
  • the urgency of the population issue
  • the importance of urban environments
  • the need for sustainability of resources
  • the importance of a global perspective
  • the interaction of people and nature
  • the role of science and values in the decisions
    we face

Earth System Science
  • Defining characteristics
  • Interconnected spheres
  • Hydrosphere
  • Atmosphere
  • Biosphere
  • Lithosphere
  • Dynamic (changes)
  • Our space ship
  • Research priorities
  • Understand the whole Earth System
  • Global scale measurements of all spheres
  • Document global changes (present and past)
  • Quantify dynamics to predict future changes
  • Inform policy makers
  • Major methods
  • Evaluate geologic record (paleoclimatology)
  • Monitoring (measuring processes changes)
  • Mathematical models (simulation prediction)

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Now, using our new insights, how can we
conceptualize our environment?
  • The ultimate commons we all inhabit, relying on
    natures intangibles
  • Doomed to a tragedy or sustainable?
  • Policy, environmental economics law
  • Where
  • Cycling of matter through biogeochemical cycles,
    adheres to thermodynamic principles
  • Pollutants vs. nutrients
  • Efficiency, waste risk
  • A cascading flow of energy comes ultimately from
    the sun and is mediated by critical fluid media
    (air, water)
  • Global energy balance, temperature circulation
  • Water resources atmospheric pollution
  • Energy supply fossil fuels, nuclear
  • Life is sustained by ecosystem processes
    established in patterns
  • Biogeography
  • Population, development (Africa), urbanization
  • Agriculture food production
  • The boundary conditions change over time
  • Plate tectonics
  • Evolution
  • Global climate change

Biogeochemical Cycles A critical reflection
  • In our closed Earth System, material
    (chemicals) must be (re) cycled.
  • Life demands the right nutrients at the right
    time and in the right proportion.
  • The study of chemical availability and
    biogeochemical cycles is important to solutions
    of environmental problems.
  • Environmental problems have been identified in
    shifts of biogeochemical cycles.
  • Applications of technology can reduce such
    problems and get us closer to sustainable

Biogeography patterns processes
  • a branch of geography that focuses on the
    distribution of plants animals the biota
    over earth.
  • Comprises both ecological and historical themes
  • Ecological how distribution of biota affected
    by environment (physical biological)
  • Historical how spatial distribution patterns of
    biota arise (and change) over time and space
  • Sustained life on Earth is a characteristic of
    ECOSYSTEMS, not of individual organisms or

Ecological efficiency Rule of Thumb
  • More than 90 (usually much more) of all energy
    transferred between trophic levels is lost as
  • Less than 10 (1 in natural ecosystems) is
    fixed as new tissue.

Eat lower on the Food Chain??
Critical Thinking Issue
Land, people agriculture
Agriculture comprises a large human-induced
biome is the lack of arable land the cause of
How do we value of environment?
  • Four categories of justification
  • Utilitarian
  • Provides individual an economic benefit or is
    necessary for survival
  • Ecological
  • Some factor is essential to larger life-support
    functions, without direct benefit to individual
    (e.g. mangrove trees provide habitat for fish)
  • Aesthetic
  • The beauty of nature has inherent value
  • Moral
  • Various aspects of environment (e.g. animals)
    have the right to exist environmental ethics

Addressing issues demands cost benefit analyses
  • True costs (benefits) are very difficult to
    quantify and hence policy is inherently
    contentious, litigious, and temporary
  • Analyses need to extend over time, both
    considering the future impacts and also
    discerning past patterns
  • Decisions must be made with incomplete

Consider the case study issues
  • What is the environmental issue? Why is it a
  • What are the causes?
  • What physical processes are involved?
  • What social/human processes are involved?
  • What is needed to solve the problem?
  • How can scientific understanding help?

Fundamentally, there are no easy answers to these
complex issues
A final case study carbon trading
  • Enthusiasm is spreading for cap-and-trade
    systems to regulate CO2 emissions
  • E.g. SO2 emissions reduced by 1990 EPA limits
    trade option
  • But, fundamental differences in the
    biogeochemistry of SO2 and CO2 suggest that
    establishing a comprehensive, market based
    cap-and-trade system for CO2 will be difficult

Carbon cycle
  • Anthropogenic fluxes are small
  • Many distributed sources
  • Impossible to control all potential sources
  • Fossil fuel sources unbalanced by sinks

Sulfur cycle
  • Natural sources small
  • Anthropogenic sources dominate
  • Point-sources easy to locate and control
  • Short residence time in atmosphere

Instituting caps on CO2 emissions
  • Market-based incentives for net C storage in
    biomass attractive but relatively small gains are
    often dispersed
  • How to net these gains against natural
  • Should Canada Russia bear costs of CO2 release
    from warming boreal soils due to global fossil
    fuel burning?
  • If credit is given to not cutting forests in one
    region, global markets will result in
    deforestation in other (poorer) regions
  • Frequent audits will be needed costly
  • Insurance needed to protect past credits
    (wildfires, storms) payments for subsequent
  • Would a tax on emissions be better?

These issues are not going away
  • Global warming and business
  • A number of large corporations are turning
    green not because of the reality of global
    warming, but in anticipation of federal
    regulations. Physics Today, December 2006
  • CO2 emissions and the Supreme Court
  • Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency,
  • Should EPA regulate CO2 as pollutant under Clean
    Air Act?
  • When a decision comes sometime before July, it
    could have a significant ripple effect that could
    extend to power plants as well as states' efforts
    to impose more stringent regulations on car
    tailpipe emissions. Forbes, AP by MARK SHERMAN
    29 Nov 2006

Pulling it all together
  • How can I come to grips with all this material?
  • Review sheet
  • Study partners/groups
  • Discuss topics using vocabulary
  • Use full sentences and correct syntax
  • Think of exam questions, and ask one another
  • Teach one another
  • Link concepts together
  • Concept maps diagrams
  • Analyze issues thematically what, why, which
    themes does it fit how?

Good luck!!
  • Value your education, and embrace your vocation
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