CHAPTER 1 Science and the Environment © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. An introduction to environmental science: CASE STUDY • Easter Island is the most remote spot on the planet. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is known today for the mysterious, huge stone statues on the island. See pp. 2-4. • • It is also an example of how NOT to treat your environment. Here’s that story: © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Easter Island: the past • A handful of Polynesians arrived on the island around 1200 A.D. • It’s an environmentally fragile island • Small, isolated, dry, cold, nutrient-poor • When they arrived, it was abundantly forested • People thrived; the population increased to 10,000+ over the next few centuries • During those years, the inhabitants cut trees to • Clear land for agriculture, and to provide structural materials and firewood • roll carved stones from quarries to edge of island © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Easter Island once had a prosperous culture © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Easter Island catastrophe • By 1650, almost all of the trees were gone • With no trees, the topsoil washed into the sea, decreasing agricultural yield • Existence became harder • Workers eventually revolted against the ruling elites • Then the workers fought among themselves • Starvation and disease became epidemic • Without trees, no one could leave the island by boat • The population was down to a few thousand by 1722 © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The rest of the story… • Easter Islanders (who call themselves Rapa Nui) did not anticipate the consequences of their actions • Unfortunately, they then suffered further from their contacts with the “civilized” world • • • • Visiting whalers infected them with venereal diseases Peruvian slavers captured many for the slave trade Smallpox killed many Rapa Nui By 1877 only 111 Rapa Nui remained on Easter Is. • Today, Easter Island is an annex of Chile; the Rapa Nui live in one village, seen in the next slide… © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Hanga Roa harbor on Easter Island © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Lessons from Easter Island • When a society does not care for its environment and the human population increases beyond the capacity of the land and water to provide food for all… • …its civilization collapses! • Other civilizations collapsed when they failed to recognize the constraints of their environment • Mayans, Greeks, Incas, and Romans • …are we next?? © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The state of the planet • Our world has, at present, four unhealthy trends: (1) Increasing population growth (over 7 billion in 2012) (2) A decline of available natural resources like oil (3) Global warming and other climate changes (4) Alarming loss of biodiversity © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Does bigger mean better? • Today, there are more than 7 billion persons on this planet. • 75 million persons are added each year • They will have to be fed, clothed, housed, and have jobs • Most population increases will be in developing countries • 1 billion experience extreme poverty (live on $1 a day) • Over 800 million are malnourished • 6 million preschoolers die each year of hunger and malnutrition © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The world’s population has exploded © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Global economic production • Has doubled since 1986 • Average gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income countries has improved • But real income in most developing countries is falling • Because of the large inequalities in wealth between them and developed countries • Stabilizing population growth in developing countries is essential for closing this economic gap © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The decline of ecosystems • These vital resources are not being managed well • • • • • • Groundwater, surface waters such as lakes, rivers Soil Fisheries Forests Oil reserves Etc. (What other resources can you name?) • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are responsible for 50% of all jobs worldwide © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Global climate change: a serious problem • Global climate change is a current serious problem • Due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases • Carbon dioxide is a by-product of burning fossil fuels • Carbon dioxide is a natural component of the atmosphere • It is required by plants for photosynthesis • It’s important to the Earth’s atmosphere energy system • The greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide absorbs infrared (heat) energy radiated from Earth’s surface, which warms the lower atmosphere © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Global temperature and carbon dioxide © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) • Established by the United Nations in 1988 • It reports its assessment of climate change every 5 years • The Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) (2007) • Input from thousands of scientific experts and hundreds of authors • This assessment produced convincing evidence that human-induced climate change is already severely impacting global climate and sea level • They concluded that results could be catastrophic if greenhouse gases emissions are not reduced. © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The Kyoto Protocol: reducing greenhouse gas emissions • 166 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 • Most industrialized nations agreed to reduce emissions • Ratified in 2005, it is in force in most industrialized nations (but not in developing countries). • The United States withdrew in 2001 • Kyoto was only a first step • Levels of greenhouse gases will continue to rise • Short-term economic impacts conflict with the long-term consequences of climate change • Climate change is one of the defining environmental issues of the 21st century © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmental science includes “us”! • Human societies live in the natural world • We use materials, converting parts of it into the built environment (towns, factories, highways) • We change natural ecosystems into agricultural ones • We use the environment to dump wastes • The term environment is an inclusive concept • It includes the natural world • Human societies and the human-built world Environmental science is the most multidisciplinary of all sciences. © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The early environmental movement • Has its roots in the late 19th century • Unique, wild aspects of the U.S. were disappearing • Conservation groups were formed • National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club • President Theodore Roosevelt placed 230 million acres under public protection © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Tilling the soil + drought produced the Dust Bowl © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. The Great Depression and World War II • During the Great Depression, conservation provided environmental protection and jobs • The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built trails, planted trees, and improved national parks and forests • In the years after World War II environmental problems became more obvious: • Polluted air, fouled rivers and beaches, species declines © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. A Carteret County woman was part of the modern environmental movement • Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring (1962) • She described a future with no songbirds, along with other consequences of pesticide pollution • It began as a grassroots initiative • Continues to command public interest and support • Public outcry led to the banning of DDT use in U. S. and the formation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmentalism • Wildlife advocates became active in the environmental movement • Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists • Environmentalists: persons and organizations with a strong focus on environmental concerns • Environmentalism: the widespread development of the environmental movement © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Environmentalism has its critics • Polluting industries often resist regulation • They believe regulations hurt the economy • Some find allies in federal, state and local governments including Congress and presidents • Political battles surround almost every environmental issue • • • • Bitter conflicts arise over publicly owned resources Special interests oppose regulations Politics always accompanies policy Many environmental issues are so controversial, people are left confused © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Three unifying themes for sustainability © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainability—what does that mean? • A system is sustainable if it can continue indefinitely without depleting material or energy resources • The term was first applied to sustainable yields in forestry and fisheries • Harvest resources but stay within the capacity of the population to grow and replace itself • Also applies to other resources Natural ecosystems are sustainable: • They thrive over time by recycling nutrients; they also maintain a diversity of species Are we living sustainably??? © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. A new commitment is needed NOW. • People everywhere recognize that “business as usual” is not sustainable • Current trends will lead to a point where resources can’t support humans • Civil order will break down • Good news is available, too • Fewer people are starving; life expectancy is rising • Population growth rates are slowing © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Sustainable societies • Many of our interactions with nature are not sustainable • • • • Declining biodiversity Greenhouse gases Human population growth Energy and other resource consumption • Can you think of other ways we are not in balance with nature? • If we don’t achieve sustainability, nature will do it for us © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. We need more stewards! • They are people who try to stop environmental destruction and pollution. Stewards care for something they do not own. • Stewards are people like… • Rachel Carson, who wrote Silent Spring (1962) • Pablo Mendoza and Luis Yanza of Ecuador • demanded that Chevron pay for its petroleum contamination • Ecuador passed stronger environmental laws • They won the 2008 Goldman Prize • Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who planted trees © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Pablo F. Mendoza and Luis Yanza © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Dr. Maathai: 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.