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Transcript
Welcome to Environmental
Geography!
(Photo by P. Regoniel
in Picable).
GEOG 101 (Section 01) – Day 1
Getting Oriented
 My name is Don Alexander. My office is across the
street at Building 359, Room 215. My local is 2261,
and my office hours are noon to 1:00 on Tuesdays
and Thursdays or by appointment. My phone is (250)
753-3245, ex. 2261.
 How many of you are at VIU for the first time? If so, if
you need a hand figuring anything out, let me know.
 I will hand out the course outlines (read carefully!).
Getting Oriented
 The textbook for this course is available in the
bookstore. There may be used copies of the
previous edition at the bookstore or at the student
union store. It’s Environment: The Science Behind the
Stories (2nd Canadian edition) by Withgott, Brennan,
and Murck (Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2013) [see
www.pearsoned.ca/highered/ myenvironmentplace/index.html
for student support materials]. It's a good book, with lots
of illustrations, case studies, and Canadian
examples. Please note that we will be skipping
Chapters 4 & 5 and probably 18 and 19.
 Apparently, there are some privacy issues in
accessing the on-line textbook resources, and also
issues related to my e-mailing students who have
hotmail or gmail accounts (but this mainly involves
communication of grades).
Course Focus
 This course is an introduction to the Earth’s
systems at a variety of scales from the ecosystem
to the biosphere, and will examine the ecological
impact of the human population and its land use
and water-related activities.
 Topics include population, agriculture,
biodiversity, forestry, ocean and freshwater
systems, climate change and air pollution,
energy, resource consumption and waste,
environmental ethics/ policy, and sustainable
land use practices. Successful examples of social
change towards a more sustainable society will
also be highlighted.
Course Objectives
By the end of the course, you will be able to
 describe and analyze ecological systems at a variety of
scales, how humans impact on them, and have
knowledge of emerging concepts and practices for
transforming the way we live and do business (as
measured by the assignments, the mid-term quiz, and
the final exam);
 analyze the role played by economic, social, and
political institutions in relation to the decline of natural
systems;
 describe and then assess the ecological and social
impacts of specific products and activities (as measured
by the life-cycle analysis);
 dissect, analyze and establish an independent
viewpoint on environmental controversies (as
measured by the media analysis and the final exam);
Course Objectives
 transform analysis of environmental concepts into
action (as measured by the environmental education
or action project);
 identify what is happening in different sectors, such
as forestry and agriculture;
 identify how sustainable management concepts and
strategies are being applied to address the pressing
environmental issues of our age, and how you can
play a crucial role in building a more sustainable
world;
 demonstrate an improvement in your research,
writing, speaking, and analytical skills, as well as your
ability to present material in a graphically appealing
format.
Getting Oriented
 The course will be a mix of lectures, discussion,
occasional guest speakers, videos, assignments,
and possible in-class debates.
 We will go over some of the course outline today.
 Phones and laptops are not to be abused.
 If you suffer from a disability of any kind, you
need to register with Disability Services (in
Building 200) and let me know as soon as
possible
 Regarding extreme weather and campus
closures, what’s on the VIU home page is the final
authority, so use that as your guide.
Getting Oriented
 In addition to the final exam and a mid-term
assignment, there will be two major assignments. For
these, you will choose from the four following options:
 a life-cycle analysis of an everyday product,
 a media analysis of a controversial environmental
issue,
 getting involved in and writing up your experiences in
an action project (or planning one), and
 the development of an environmental education unit to
present in a local elementary or secondary school.
 You may also be asked to answer questions about
videos shown, and to participate in a debate on a key
environmental topic. [more instructions soon!]
Getting Oriented
 EVALUATION
 1. Attendance and Participation in in-class work- 10%
 2. Mid-term assignment- 15%
 3. Life-cycle Analysis or Action Project- 25% (see outline
for proposal and final due dates)
 4. Media analysis or Elementary/ High School
Educational Outreach Exercise- 25%
 6. Final Exam- 25% (TBA)
________________________
100%

[more on the assignments soon]
You can also boost your participation marks by
bringing relevant resources to my and the class'
attention.
Ground Rules
 No late assignments unless there is some health or family






emergency.
No plagiarism – all assignments must be original. If you
have any questions about what that means, we can talk
about it.
CRITICAL THINKING IS ENCOURAGED!
For referencing use the parenthetical forms of APA or
University of Chicago (The Writing Centre has handouts or
see http://libguides.viu.ca/citing).
If at all possible, print double-sided or on scrap paper.
If you're going to miss a class, please let me know.
When you do miss, it's your responsibility to keep up with
the readings, and see what was covered in lecture by
viewing the lecture notes on my web site:
http://web.viu.ca/alexander2 under “Courses.”
Introduction to 101
 “Scientists alarmed by rapidly shrinking Arctic ice cap”
by David Kramer, Physics Today (2013).
 The focus of the course is the global ecological crisis [see
http://energyskeptic.com/2011/9-planetery-boundaries/] and
what we can do
to address it, including what is already being done in a
number of sectors. If you have specific interests, let me
know and I will try to accommodate them, if possible.
 What are some key environmental issues facing our
planet? What is causing them and how are they
impacting on people and other species?
 I would also like to take advantage of whatever
knowledge or previous life experience you have that is
relevant. What can you offer?
Chapter 1 will help you understand:






The meaning of the term
‘environment’
The importance of natural
resources and ecosystems
That environmental science
and environmental geography are interdisciplinary
The scientific method and
how science operates
Pressures facing the global
environment
Sustainability and
sustainable development
1-12
Our Island, Earth -- Overview
All the things around us with which we interact:

Biotic (living things)


Abiotic (nonliving things)


Continents, oceans, clouds, icecaps, freshwater,
rocks, nutrients
Our built environment


Animals, plants, forests, soils, etc.
Structures, human-created living centres
Social relationships and institutions
1-13
Humans…
•
•
are altering the natural systems we need for
- resources, health, life-span, wealth, mobility, & leisure
Impacts:
- natural systems have been degraded
- this poses a long-term threat to health and survival of
ourselves, other species and ecosystems
•
Environmental science and environmental geography
study:
- how the natural world works
- how the environment affects humans and vice versa
•
Environmental geography gives special emphasis to how
things interrelate in space – for instance, the relationship
between pollution and climate change and health impacts on
humans or ecosystems, or the spread of exotic species and
how they impact on indigenous species.
1-14
Natural resources: vital to human survival
FIGURE 1.1
•
•
Renewable resources:
- Perpetually available: sunlight, wind, wave energy
- Those that renew themselves over longer periods: timber, water, soil
- can be overharvested
Nonrenewable resources: finite supply; can be depleted
- Oil, coal, minerals
1-15
Global human population growth
•
More than 7 billion humans
(in 1800, only 1 billion, only
3% of whom lived in cities)
•
Why so many humans?
-
Agricultural revolution
-
-
Stable food supplies
Industrial revolution
-
Urbanized society
powered by fossil
fuels
-
Sanitation and
medicines (decline in
death rate)
FIGURE 1.2
1-16
weighing
the issues
The “Tragedy of the Commons”
by Garrett Hardin
With so many people and so many corporations, we
run into what some people call the ‘tragedy of the
commons.’
•
•Unregulated
exploitation of open access resources
leads to resource depletion -- some examples?
Resource users are tempted to increase use until the
resource is gone
•
•
Solution?
•
Private ownership of all resources?
•
Voluntary organization to enforce responsible
use?
•
Governmental regulations?
1-17
The “ecological footprint”
concept
developed by Mathis Wackernagel
& William Rees
The environmental impact of an individual or population
Amount of biologically productive land + water
required to provide raw materials a population
consumes and absorb the waste produced
 Overshoot: humans have surpassed the Earth’s
capacity (the date when humans are said to have
overshot the Earth's carrying capacity is said to fall
earlier and earlier each year and last year it occurred
on August 20th).
We are using more than 40% more of the planet’s
resources than are available on a sustainable basis from
all the land!

1-18
Environmental science
… can help us avoid mistakes made in the past.
The lesson of Easter Island: people annihilated their
culture by destroying their environment. Can we act
more wisely to conserve our planet, or will we drive a
bitumen-filled SUV straight into a cement wall?
1-19
weighing
the issues
•
Environmental science/ geography
are interdisciplinary
What experts would you need for:





The construction of a new
hydroelectric dam
Environmental review for the
Northern Gateway pipeline
The proposed draining of a
wetland to build a new
subdivision
A proposal to permit bear
hunting in a national park
The management of a large oil
spill offshore from a coastal
ecosystem
FIGURE 1.3
1-20
What is an “environmental problem”?


The perception of what
constitutes a problem varies
between individuals and
societies
e.g. DDT, a pesticide


In developing countries: to
some degree welcome
because it kills malariacarrying mosquitoes
In developed countries: not
welcome, due to health risks
FIGURE 1.4
1-21
Environmental science is not
environmentalism
Environmental science

The pursuit of knowledge about the natural
world

Scientists try to remain objective (though
sources of funding can and do influence
questions studied and conclusions arrived at)
Environmentalism

A social movement dedicated to protecting the
natural world, though some environmental
scientists (e.g. David Suzuki, Andrew Weaver)
become environmentalists because they feel the
'facts' about the environment demand that we
take action as a society and as a species.
1-22
The nature of science


Science:
 A systematic process for learning about the world and
testing our understanding of it
 A dynamic process of observation, testing, and discovery
 The accumulated body of knowledge that results from
this process
Science is essential for
 Sorting out fact from fiction
 Developing solutions to the problems we face
Current controversy over federal government cancelling
evidence-based science projects/ centres and muzzling
scientists. This has led to recent protests (“Death of Evidence”
in Ottawa) and to editorials in the prestigious science journal,
Nature [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v487/n7407/full/487271b.html]
1-23
Science: Critically examining evidence


Scientists design tests: are ideas supported
by evidence?
Explanations must:

Be testable

Resist repeated attempts to disprove them


Eventually ‘consensus’ results, as with the notion of
human-induced climate change.
Accepted ideas can be applied in policy and
management decisions (e.g. prescribed
burning in the case of forestry)
1-24
The scientific method


A technique for testing
ideas with observations
Assumptions:
 The universe works
according to
unchanging natural
laws
 Events arise from
causes, and cause
other events
 We use our senses
and reason to
understand nature’s
laws
FIGURE 1.7
1-25
The scientific method
A scientist makes an
observation and asks
questions of some
phenomenon

The scientist formulates a
hypothesis, a statement that
attempts to explain the scientific
question.

The hypothesis is used to
generate predictions, which
are specific statements that can
be directly and unequivocally
tested.

The test results either support
or reject the hypothesis

FIGURE 1.7
1-26
There are different ways to test hypotheses
Manipulative experiments yield
the strongest evidence
• Can show causation
• Not always possible to use
Natural or correlational tests
show real-world complexity
•
Cannot show causation
FIGURE 1.8
1-27
The scientific process is part of a larger process
The scientific process
includes peer review,
publication, and debate

A consistently
supported hypothesis
becomes a theory, a
well-tested and widely
accepted explanation

With enough data, a
paradigm shift – a
change in the dominant
view – can occur
(examples?)

FIGURE 1.9
1-28
Housekeeping Items
 I will continue with the slides from Chapter 1
(which are up on the web site), and then in
about 45 minutes we will have a guest
speaker who will talk about options for life
cycle analyses where the information will
actually be used.
 Does anyone need a course outline?
 I will pass around some items of possible
interest.
 I may be gone for part of next week because
of a family emergency, but I will try to
ensure that this course is covered.
Sustainability and the future of our world

Human population growth
exacerbates all environmental
problems


The growth rate has slowed, but
we still add more than 200,000
people to the planet each day
Our consumption of resources has
risen even faster than our population
growth.


Life has become more pleasant for
us (for some of us much more than
others) so far
However, rising consumption
amplifies the demands we make on
our environment.
1-30
Ecological footprints are not all equal

The ecological
footprints of countries
vary greatly


Canada uses far more
than its equal share of
the world’s resources
Developing countries
have much smaller
footprints than
developed countries
FIGURE 1.10
1-31
We face challenges in agriculture


Expanded food production led to increased
population and consumption
It’s one of humanity’s greatest achievements,
but at an enormous environmental cost
 Nearly half of the planet’s land surface is
used for agriculture that depends heavily
on
 chemical fertilizers
 pesticides, and produces
 erosion, water degradation, and
 decreased biodiversity
1-32
We also face challenges in pollution
•
Waste products and artificial chemicals used in farms, industries, and
households
Each year, millions of people die from pollution…
1-33
We face challenges in climate
Scientists have firmly concluded that humans are
changing the composition of the atmosphere
 The Earth’s surface is warming

catastrophic decline in Arctic sea ice

melting glaciers

rising sea levels

impacted wildlife and crops

increasingly destructive weather

Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon
dioxide concentrations have risen by 38%, to the
highest level in 650,000 years – 400 parts per million.
1-34
“Vicious storms smacked the Deep
South and toppled trees like
dominoes as tornadoes howled
through towns. Seven deaths were
reported in Alabama, when the
storm tossed a mobile home nearly
state highway…”
Email
Today’s News
We face challenges in biodiversity
•
Human actions have driven many species extinct, and biodiversity
is declining dramatically
•
We are on the verge of a mass extinction event
FIGURE 1.12
Biodiversity loss may be our biggest environmental problem;
once a species is extinct, it is gone forever
1-36
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)


The most comprehensive scientific assessment of
the condition of the world’s ecological systems,
carried out by the UN
Major findings:




humans have drastically altered ecosystems
these changes have contributed to human wellbeing and economic development, but at a cost
environmental degradation could get much worse
degradation can be reversed, but it requires a lot of
work (and leadership, which is in short supply)
1-37
Our energy choices will affect our future



The lives we live today are due to fossil fuels
 machines
 chemicals
 transportation
 products (e.g. plastics)
Fossil fuels are a one-time bonanza; supplies will
certainly decline. The party will then be over.
We have used up ½ of the world’s oil supplies;
how will we handle the imminent shortage of fossil
fuels?
1-38
Sustainable solutions exist

We must develop solutions that protect both our quality
of life and the environment. Components include:

organic agriculture

new technology

pollution reduction

conservation of
resources and species


recycling
renewable energy
sources
FIGURE 1.13
1-39
Are things getting better or worse?



Many people think environmental conditions are better
 Cornucopians: Human ingenuity will solve any problem
Some think things are much worse in the world
 Cassandras: predict doom and disaster
How can you decide who is correct?
 Are the impacts limited to humans, or are other
organisms or systems involved?
 Are the proponents thinking in the long or short term?
 Are they considering all costs and benefits?
 Are they thinking in terms of a ‘triple bottom line’?
1-40
Sustainability: a goal for the future



How can humans live within the planet’s means?
 Humans cannot exist without functioning natural
systems
Sustainability
 Leaves future generations with a rich and full Earth
 Conserves the Earth’s natural resources [leaves
‘natural capital’ intact]
 Maintains fully functioning ecological systems
Sustainable development: “development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs”(ambivalent
meaning??)
1-41
Conclusion




Environmental science helps us understand our
relationship with the environment and informs our
attempts to solve and prevent problems.
Identifying a problem is the first step in solving it
(e.g. scientific understanding of climate change)
Solving environmental problems can move us
towards health, longevity, peace and prosperity
Environmental science and geography can help us
find balanced solutions to environmental problems.
1-42
Question for Small Groups
 What do you think the most important global
environmental problems are and how did they
get that way?
QUESTION: Review
The term “environment” includes
a)
b)
c)
d)
Animals and plants
Oceans and rivers
Soil and atmosphere
All of the above are included in this term
1-44
Will we develop in a sustainable way?


The triple bottom line: sustainable
solutions that meet
 environmental goals
 economic goals
 social goals
Requires that humans apply knowledge
from the sciences to
 limit environmental impacts
 maintain functioning ecological systems
1-45
QUESTION: Review
Which of the following is correct about the term
“environmentalism”?
a)
b)
c)
d)
It is very science-oriented
It is a social movement to protect the environment
It usually does not include advocacy for the
environment
It involves scientists trying to solve environmental
problems
1-46
QUESTION: Review
Adding various amounts of fertilizer to
plants in a laboratory is a _____ type of
experiment
a)
b)
c)
d)
Correlative
Natural
Manipulative
Rare
1-47
QUESTION: Review
What is the
a)
b)
c)
d)
definition of “sustainable development”?
Using resources to benefit future generations,
even if it means lower availability now
Letting future generations figure out their own
problems
Using resources to satisfy current needs
without compromising future availability
Letting each country decide what is its best
interest
1-48
QUESTION: Weighing the Issues

Which do you think is the best way to protect
commonly owned resources (i.e., air, water,
fisheries)?
a)
b)
c)
d)
Sell the resource to a private entity
Voluntary organizations to enforce responsible
use
Governmental regulations
Do nothing and see what happens
1-49
QUESTION: Weighing the Issues
Do you think the rest of the world can have an
ecological footprint as large as the footprint of the
Canada?

a)
b)
c)
d)
Yes, because we will find new technologies
and resources
Yes, because the footprint of Canada is not
really that large
Definitely not; the world does not have that
many resources
It does not matter; it’s not that important
1-50
QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data
According to this graph, what has happened to the
population over the last 500 years?
a) It has grown
exponentially
b) It has grown
linearly
c) It has
decreased
d) It has slowed
down recently
1-51
QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data
What happens if test
results reject a
hypothesis?
a)
b)
c)
d)
a) The scientist formulates
a new hypothesis
b) It shows the test failed
c) The hypothesis was
supported
d) The predictions may not
have been correct
1-52