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Chapter 2: Frameworks for Understanding: Science, Systems, and Ethics

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Title: Chapter 2: Frameworks for Understanding: Science, Systems, and Ethics


1
Chapter 2 Frameworks for Understanding
Science, Systems, and Ethics
2
Outline
  • What is Science?
  • Cooperation and Consensus in Science
  • Systems
  • Environmental Ethics and World Views
  • Religious and Cultural Perspectives
  • Environmental Justice

3
2.1 What is Science?
  • Science assumes the world is knowable and is
  • a methodical, logical process for producing
    knowledge about natural phenomena
  • a cumulative body of knowledge produced by
    scientists
  • a process based on careful observation
  • and hypothesis testing that may lead to a
    theory.

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Science Depends on Skepticism and Accuracy
  • Ideally scientists are skeptical and unbiased.
  • Scientists strive for
  • accuracy - correctness of measurements
  • reproducibility - repeatability of results
  • Repeating studies or tests is called replication.

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7
Deductive Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive reasoning - logical reasoning from
    general to specific
  • Inductive reasoning - reasoning from many
    observations to produce a general rule
  • It is also important to recognize the role of
    insight, creativity, aesthetics, and luck in
    research.

8
Hypotheses and Theories
  • Hypothesis - a testable explanation
  • Scientific theory - a description or explanation
    that has been supported by a large number of
    tests and is considered by experts to be reliable

9
Probability
  • Probability is a measure of how likely something
  • is to occur.
  • Scientists often increase confidence in a study
    by comparing results to a random sample or a
    larger group.

10
Statistics
  • Many statistical tests focus on calculating the
    probability that observed results could have
    occurred by chance.
  • Usually ecological tests are considered
    significant if this probability is less than 5.
  • The amount of confidence scientists have in the
    results depends upon the sample size as well. A
    large sample size is better than a small sample.

11
Experimental Design
  • Natural experiment - involves observation of
    events that have already happened
  • Manipulative experiment - conditions are
    deliberately altered for one variable and all
    other variables are held constant
  • Controlled study - comparing a treatment group to
    a control group which has not received the
    treatment
  • Blind experiment - researcher doesnt know which
    group has been treated until after the data have
    been analyzed. Eliminate the placebo effect
  • Double-blind experiment - neither the subject nor
    the researcher knows who is in the treatment
    group. Minimizes risk of bias.

12
Variables
  • In each study there is one dependent variable and
    one or more independent variables.
  • The dependent variable is affected by what
    happens to the independent variable.
  • In a graph, the dependent variable is on the
    vertical (Y) axis and the independent variable is
    on the horizontal axis (X).

13
Models
  • Models are simple representations of phenomena.
    They can be physical models, model organisms,
    mathematical models, or other types of models.
  • They allow scientists to study complex systems
    and predict the effect of conditions that are too
    difficult to create and control.
  • When multiple models agree, scientists gain
    confidence.

14
Case Study John Snow and Cholera
  • London in 1854 was suffering from a severe
    cholera outbreak.
  • Symptoms Diarrhea, vomiting, paralysis, death.
  • John Snow did interviews and mapped the locations
    of the disease.

15
Cholera in London
16
2.2 Consensus and Conflict
  • Scientific consensus (general agreement among
    informed scholars) stems from a community of
    scientists who collaborate in a cumulative,
    self-correcting process.
  • Paradigm shifts (great changes in explanatory
    frameworks) occur when a majority of scientists
    agree that an old explanation no longer works
    very well.

17
Critical Thinking
  • Table 2.2 (p42) has several Baloney Detection
    questions.

18
Environmental Science vs. Environmentalism
  • Environmental science - use of scientific method
    to study processes and systems in the
    environment
  • Environmentalism - working to influence attitudes
    and policies that affect our environment

19
Pseudoscience
  • Appears or claims to be science, but does not
    follow scientific principles.
  • Examples..

20
The Earth is Flat
21
Geocentric Solar System
22
Spontaneous Generation
23
Alchemy
24
y2k!
  • Many computers only used two digits to store the
    date, so when the new year hit, they would revert
    to 1900 instead of 2000.
  • Fears Computers controlling power grids,
    nuclear reactors, weapons, would fail.
  • Reality
  • Japan had a nuclear power plant false alarm go
    off.
  • Australia had two bus station ticket machines
    shut down.
  • 150 slot machines in Delaware shut down.
  • The clock on the U.S. Navys website had the
    incorrect date.

25
Doomsday 2012
  • The Mayan Calendar ends on December 21, 2012.
  • A huge sunspot or sunflare will cause a polar
    reversal, causing the Earth to spin in the
    opposite direction.
  • Earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions will
    follow.

26
2.3 Systems
  • Systems - networks of interactions among many
    interdependent factors
  • Examples ecosystems, climates systems, geologic
    systems, economic systems
  • Systems are composed of processes. We can think
    of them in terms of flows and storage
    compartments. Example Fish tank

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System Characteristics
  • Positive feedback loop - when a flow leads to
    compartment changes that further enhance the flow
  • Negative feedback loop - dampens flow
  • Equilibrium - dynamic state in which system is
    changing little over time (homeostasis)
  • Disturbance - periodic destructive events such as
    fire or flood
  • Resilience - ability of system to recover quickly
    from disturbance

29
System Characteristics
  • System can be closed or open.
  • Closed - self contained and receives no inputs of
    energy or materials from the outside
  • Open - system that takes inputs from its
    surroundings
  • Emergent properties - characteristics of a whole,
    functioning system that are quantitatively or
    qualitatively greater than the sum of the
    systems parts
  • Example The human body is a system of flows and
    compartments but from that system emerge
    emotions, ideas, painting, dance, etc.

30
2.4 Environmental Ethics World Views
  • Ethics is a branch of philosophy concerned with
    what actions are right and wrong.
  • Environmental ethics deals with our moral
    obligations to the world around us.
  • Worldviews - sets of basic beliefs, images and
    understandings that shape how we see the world
    around us. Worldviews also determine what
    questions are valid to ask.

31
Who or What has Moral Value?
  • Moral extensionism - extending moral values to
    others
  • Should moral extensionism include granting some
    degree of moral value to animals, plants and the
    environment?
  • Value - a measure of the worth of something
  • Inherent value - intrinsic or innate worth
  • Instrumental value - items have worth only
    because they are valued by another person

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33
Ecofeminism
  • Ecofeminists argue most philosophers came from a
    patriarchal system based on domination and
    superiority.
  • Contend domination, exploitation, and
    mistreatment of women, children, minorities, and
    nature are intimately connected and mutually
    reinforcing
  • Argue that we need more cooperation with both
    nature and other people to achieve a peaceful,
    sustainable society

34
2.5 Faith-Based Conservation and Environmental
Justice
  • Stewardship - taking care of the resources we are
    given
  • Calls for environmental stewardship and for human
    domination of the environment can be found in the
    writings of most major faiths. Which of these
    ideas is emphasized has varied throughout human
    history.
  • In 1995, representatives of 9 major faiths met in
    Ohito, Japan to outline common beliefs and
    responsibilities towards protecting the Earth.

35
Religious and Cultural Perspectives
36
Environmental Justice
  • Environmental justice combines civil rights with
    environmental protection to demand a safe,
    healthy environment for everyone.
  • Poor and minorities often live in polluted
    neighborhoods.
  • Environmental racism is inequitable distribution
    of environmental hazards based on race. Example
    Lead poisoning in children
  • Toxic colonialism is the practice of targeting
    poor communities or communities of color in
    developing nations as waste disposal areas.
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