Understanding Our Environment
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Outline
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Introduction
Historical Perspective
 Pragmatic Resource Conservation
 Moral and Aesthetic Nature Conservation
 Modern Environmentalism
 Global Conservation
Current Conditions
A Divided World
Sustainable Development
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Introduction
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Humans have always inhabited both the
natural world and the social world.
Environment:
 Circumstances or conditions that surround
an organism or groups of organisms.
 The complex of social or cultural conditions
that affect an individual or community.
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Introduction
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Environmental Science: Systematic study of
our environment, and our proper place in it.
 Interdisciplinary
 Integrative
- Natural Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Humanities
 Mission Oriented
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Environmental Science
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HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
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Four Distinct Stages
 Pragmatic Resource Conservation
 Moral and Aesthetic Nature Preservation
 Health and Ecological Damage Concerns
 Global Environmental Citizenship
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Pragmatic Resource Conservation
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George Perkins Marsh - Man and Nature
- Influenced Theodore Roosevelt and
Gifford Pinchot.
 Pragmatic Utilitarian Conservation
 “Greatest good for the greatest
number for the longest time”
 Multiple Use Policies of USFS.
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Moral and Aesthetic Nature Preservation
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John Muir - President Sierra Club
 Nature deserves to exist for its own sake regardless of degree of usefulness to
humans. (Biocentric Preservation)
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Modern Environmentalism
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Industrial explosion of WW II added new
concerns to the environmental agenda.
 Rachel Carson - Silent Spring (1962)
Environmental Agenda expanded in 1960’s
and 70’s to include:
 Atomic Weapons Testing
 Fossil Fuel Issues
 Air and Water Pollution
 Wilderness Protection
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Global Concerns
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Increased technology has greatly expanded
international communications.
 Daily events now reported worldwide
instead of locally or regionally.
- Global Environmentalism
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CURRENT CONDITIONS
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Human Population > 6 Billion.
 Food shortages and famines exist in many
densely populated areas.
 Water Quantity and Quality Issues
 Fossil Fuel Burning
- Air and Water Pollution
 Landscape Destruction
- Loss of Biodiversity
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Signs of Hope
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Progress has been made on many fronts.
 Population has stabilized in many
industrialized countries.
 Incidence of life-threatening diseases has
been reduced in some countries.
 Average life expectancy nearly doubled.
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RICH / POOR: A DIVIDED WORLD
Poor countries tend to be located in Southern
Hemisphere.
World Bank estimates1.4 billion people live in
acute poverty of < $1 (U.S.) per day.
 Daily survival necessitates over-harvesting
resources thus degrading chances of longterm sustainability.
 Poor are often victims and agents of
environmental degradation.
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RICH / POOR: A DIVIDED WORLD
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Wealthy countries tend to be located in the
Northern Hemisphere.
About 1/5 of world population live in countries
with per capita income > $25,000.00 (U.S.).
 Poor people exist here as well.
Gap between rich and poor continues to
increase.
 Wealthiest 200 people in the world have
combined wealth of $1 trillion - more than
total wealth of poorest half (3 billion) of the
world’s population.
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Human Development
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United Nations releases Human
Development Index (HDI). Based on social
factors - ranges from 0.0 -1.0.
 Aggregate numbers hide many important
inequity issues:
- Gender
- Race
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A Fair Share of Resources
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Affluent lifestyles of richer countries consume
inordinate share of natural resources and
produces high proportion of pollutants.
 Takes approximately 450 kg to get an
average American through the day.
 US annually throws away 160 million tons
of garbage.
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Economic Progress
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Over the past 50 years, the world’s Gross
Domestic Product (GDP)increased from $2
Trillion to $22 Trillion.
Since WW II, average real income in
developing countries has doubled.
BUT
General welfare has increased.
Worldwide gap between rich and poor has
widened.
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Sustainable Development
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“Meeting the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.”
 Benefits must be available to all humans,
not just sub-set of privileged group.
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Sustainable Development
Many economists see continual economic
growth as essential in providing more
resources to more people.
 Most ecologists view continual growth as
impossible in the long-run due to nonrenewable resources and limited ecological
waste-disposal capabilities.
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20 : 20 Compact
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1995 United Nations Summit for Social
Development called all nations to ensure
basic needs for everyone.
 20:20 Compact
- Wealthy countries contribute 20% of aid
to humanitarian concerns and social
development.
- Developing countries contribute 20% of
budget to human primary concerns.
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Indigenous People
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Indigenous (native) people are often least
powerful, most neglected people in the world.
 At least half the world’s 6,000 distinct
languages are dying.
 Indigenous homelands may harbor vast
percentage of world’s biodiversity.
 Recognizing native land rights and political
rights may often be a solid ecological
safeguard.
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Summary
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Introduction
Historical Perspective
 Pragmatic Resource Conservation
 Moral and Aesthetic Nature Conservation
 Modern Environmentalism
 Global Conservation
Current Conditions
A Divided World
Sustainable Development
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Understanding Our Environment