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Introduction to Environmental
 What is Environmental Science?
 What is an environment?
Environment: all the external conditions, both abiotic
and biotic, that affect an organism or group of
 Organisms also exert effects on their environment
 Environmental Science: the interdisciplinary study of
how humanity interacts with other organisms and the
nonliving physical environment
What is the focus of environmental science?
 To identify, understand, and solve problems that
society has generated.
Environmental Science is
Environmental Science
 Biology
 Chemistry
 Geology
 Physics
 Earth science
 Ecology
 Geography
 Economics
 Sociology
 Demography
 Cultural anthropology
 Natural resources
Environmental Problems are complex and seldom
have simple solutions.
Environmental Problems are complex and seldom
have simple solutions.
 A significant portion of photochemical smog in New Jersey
is derived from pollutants emitted by coal-burning power
plants in the Midwest.
 Air pollution generated in China affects air quality in the
western parts of the US and Canada
 Oxides of sulfur and nitrogen emitted by coal-burning
power plants in the Midwest contribute to acid rain
problems in Canada
 Air pollution in developing nations is partially the result of
the combination of low wages in poor countries and strict
environmental laws in affluent countries.
Explain what is meant by sustainability and
sustainable development
2. Explain how population growth is related to
sustainable development
Earth has limited resources to support human
There are numerous
examples of
civilizations which did
not live within the
constraints of their
Easter Island
Easter Island
 Settled around 400-800 A.D.
 Ample forests were systematically cut for agriculture
land, structural materials, and to move large stone
 Deforestation led to soil erosion.
 Soil erosion led to water quality degradation and
elimination of fish and shellfish populations
 Eroded soil did not support agriculture
 Population went from ~8000 in the 1600’s to several
hundred in the 1800’s.
Effect of Population Growth
Effect of Population Growth
 Each person creates a certain demand on
the Earth’s resources.
 Population growth AND increasing
consumption per person can stress Earth’s
Examples of unsustainable practices have led to:
1. Groundwater supplied being depleted
2. Agricultural soils being degraded
3. Oceans being overfished
4. Oil reserves being depleted
5. Forests cut faster than they can grow.
A sustainable process or system…
…can continue indefinitely without depleting
any of the material or energy required to
keep it going.
 This was first applied to activities such as
forestry and fisheries
 Can also be applied to freshwater supplies,
agricultural soils, and the ability of natural
systems to absorb pollutants
 Historically, sustainability/pollution
concerns have been a local problem.
 We are now faced with global sustainability
issues such as:
Acid rain
Ozone depletion
Global climate change
Sustainable Society
A sustainable society is in balance with the natural
world, continuing generation after generation,
neither depleting its resource base by exceeding
sustainable yields nor producing pollutants in
excess of nature’s ability to absorb them.
 Primative societies- usually sustainable (high
mortality rates)
 Modern societies-many interactions with
enviroment are NOT sustainable
Sustainable Development
Development – defined as continued
improvement of living standards
Sustainable development
Development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs.