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Chapter 1: Key Terms

Human Population Growth October 12th, 1999 and October 31st, 2011 On October 31st, the United Nations estimated that the worlds population reached 7 billion, twelve years ago on October 12th the population was 6 billion. 1. Human population growth (the environmental problem) 2. Sustainability (the environmental goal) 3. A global perspective (solving many environmental problems requires a global solution) 4. An urbanizing world (most of us live and work in urban areas) 5. People and nature (we share a common history with nature) 6. Science and values (science provides solutions which one is chosen is in part a value judgment) Can the world support and sustain all of these people? Sustainability is management of natural resources and the environment with the goals of allowing the harvest of resources to remain at or above some specified level, and the ecosystem to retain its functions and structure Carrying Capacity: The maximum abundance of a population or species that can be maintained by a habitat or ecosystem without degrading the ability of that habitat or ecosystem to maintain that abundance in the future Gaia Hypothesis Originated by British chemist James Lovelock and American biologist Lynn Margulis Proposes that the environment at a global level has profoundly changed by life over the history of life on Earth and these changes have improved the chances for the continuation of life Demography: The Study of populations. The Population Reference Bureau is the worlds leading demographer, according to their estimates the worlds populations is currently around 7.03 billion. What decreases population? War, feminine, and pandemic (i.e. the bubonic plague). Environmental Science with a Global Perspective The things we do are going to effect the environment in other parts of the world, i.e. dumping substances into the ocean could lead to pollution in the air, so we must always think globally. o People & Nature: they are intertwined, both affect each other; we depend on nature for beauty, recreation, resources, food and water, we are borrowing the environment.

o Science & Values: decisions about environmental problems require values and knowledge. Precautionary Principle: This theory says be proactive NOT reactive, basically if we think there is going to be a problem, take action before we have to prove there is one. When there is a threat of serious, perhaps even irreversible, environmental damage, we should not wait for scientific proof before taking precautionary steps to prevent potential harm to the environment Utilitarian Justification: Seeing some aspect of the environment as value because it provides individuals with economic advancement or necessary to our survival (i.e. fishermen need fish in the sea for livelihood). Ecological Justification: Based on the value of some factor that is essential to larger life support functions and is not directly benefiting an individual (i.e. the burning of coal or oil adds greenhouse gases and releases carbon dioxide which effects climate change). Aesthetic Justification: deals with ones appreciation of the beauty of nature. Moral Justification: is the belief that aspects of the environment have a right to exist and that it is our moral obligation to allow them to continue to have the right to exist (i.e. endangered species). o In 1988 Roderick Nash wrote an article called Do Rocks Have Rights? It discussed and defined moral justification. o In 1982 the United Nations general assembly world charter for nature was signed and the UN said that species have a right to exist (see end of chapter one).

Chapter 2: Science as a Way of Knowing: Critical Thinking about the Environment


Thinking critically about the environment Thinking Scientifically WHAT IS SCIENCE? Possession of knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding Knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method What does scientific thinking involve? Analyzing the facts Being critical of the claims made by media, politics, and environmentalistspeople like this often make incorrect statements about the environment. The Scientific Method A systematic method that helps to gather data, formulize and test the hypotheses, and develop scientific theories and laws.

Science begins with making observations


Hypothesis: A statement not a question that might explain some event or natural phenomenon Deductive Reasoning: drawing a valid conclusion from an initial set of definitions and assumptions by means of logical reasoning. Inductive Reasoning: drawing a conclusion from a limited set of observations. DECISION MAKING PROCESS 1. Formulate a clear statement of the issue to be decided What are you trying to conclude? 2. Gather the scientific information related to the issue Gather ALL of the information you can 3. List all alternative courses of action Form an informative list of possible results; one course of action (alternative) that must always be listed is the do nothing alternative. 4. Predict the positive and negative consequences of each course of action and the probability that each consequence will occur Every decision you make can have positive and negative consequences. Make sure you understand the probability of outcomes 5. Weigh the alternatives and choose the best solution Select the best solution.

Chapter 3: The Big Picture: Systems of Change


Systems and Change a system is any interconnected set of components that acts as a whole. Systems can be opened or closed, open systems generally are contained in boundaries (ex: the ocean, by respect of water), closed systems have no movement in or out of the system (ex: the earth). Ecosystem: a system where the components are organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms)