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Environment & Society


What is an environment?
EPA definition
The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development and survival of an organism.

Webster definition
The complex of climatic, edaphic, and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form & survival

People & Environment

Historically we can show that many times people do things that impact the environment. Can you think of examples?
Chernobyl Accident Depletion of the ozone layer Smog Oil spills in seas or oceans Use of DDT and the effect on the bald eagle or other raptors Acid rain Climate change Strip mining Hazardous waste dumping

Environmental Impacts
In this class we will discuss
The impacts that people have on their environment. The effects of new & old technologies on the environment The effect of population on the environment The use of natural resources and the resulting impact.

In general we refer to the impacts that the presence of man has on their environment as anthropogenic Anthropogenic means
of, relating to, or influenced by the impact of man on nature

Growth and Development

We know that people need certain things to live.
Food, air, shelter, etc.

As our knowledge and technology has advanced, it has changed our quality of life and our expectations Technology development has also impacted the rate at which natural resources are consumed and the way in which they are used

For Instance, ..
In industrialized nations in the world (U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada, etc) the quality of life has increased substantially People living in these areas come to expect certain things to be available and often we take them for granted.

For Instance
Would you be willing now to live without any of the following:
Electricity? Air conditioning? Treated drinking water? A sanitary sewer system? Phones, internet, etc.? Fast food? Heat? Transportation?

Man and Nature

The more people there are in a city, county, state, country, or even the world, the more they impact their surroundings. As countries develop everyone wants to improve their standard of living. Development requires energy, natural resources, land, etc. Man depends on nature to provide the necessities of life but at the same time some of mans activities are detrimental to their surrounding environment.

First Articles
The first unit and articles in the text for the class talks about whether or not sustainable development can be achieved. You are going to read different ideas about the concept and have to form your own opinions. Everyone needs to know some facts before they can make decisions regarding environmental issues.

What is sustainable development?

Basically, sustainable development is the economic development without polluting the environment. According to Encarta Dictionary
Sustainable development is economic development maintained within acceptable levels of global resource depletion and environmental pollution.

What is global sustainability?

On a global level, sustainability is described as meeting human needs and reducing hunger and poverty while maintaining the life-support of the planet (See article 5) The population of the world is over 6 billion and is projected to continue to grow over the next few decades.

Sustainable Development
There is a limit to how many people a planet can support & that limit is determined by the expectations of the inhabitants Do you want the basics? (just enough food, water & shelter to survive)
Planet can support more

Do you want to live like you do now?

Planet can support less

Sustainable Development
Many countries in the world and environmentalists are very concerned about the rapid growth and necessary development that is occurring or needs to occur in many nations. The United Nations has created a group to work on these issues and try to find solutions to the problems encountered.

As you are reading the articles in the first unit in your text, I want you to use other available resources to help you understand the issues. The UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs has established the Division for Sustainable Development. They have a website you might find useful.

http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/index.html One of things that I think youll find useful about the website is that it has an issues section that hits on all of the major topics that we will be talking about this semester. Ive also placed the website address under the links tab on the course web page.

Global Environmental Impact

The United States has had a number of different environmental groups and citizens that have been very active in pushing for environmental improvement in the United States. The EPA was established by President Nixon in 1970. Some countries are equally or more conscientious about the environment. For some, its not even on the radar.

President Nixon
Nixon wrote that only by reorganizing our Federal efforts can we develop that knowledge, and effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment itself. Nixon established an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Global Impact
Does actions by other developing countries impact other citizens of the world outside their geographic boundaries? Do we need to be concerned about global environmental impact?

When development and growth occur within a country there are several different factors that determine how that country will respond to the challenges presented.
Economic factors Social factors Political factors

Different Responses
For instance, building a power plant on the Mississippi River in the U. S. would draw interest, comment & participation from environmental groups, communities, governmental agencies, politicians, citizens, etc. Move that power plant to Africa.
Will the action get the same response?

Man & the Environment

As mentioned earlier, man impacts the surrounding environment Sometimes this impact affects our ability to provide basic needs to our citizens Man often develops technology & begins to use it without fully understanding how it may affect the environment in 10, 20 or 100 years.

Direction for our class.

As we explore different topics this semester I want you to focus all of your responses & thoughts on 2 scenarios:
Think about your life right now: your habits, how you use resources, things that are available to you Think about what life will be like for your grandchildrens children: how resources are used, how they may live, what things may be available

Starting out
We are going to begin our look at mans impact and decisions that need to be made by looking at one natural resource. Well start with water consumption and to go along with that well look at sanitation issues. Be sure to read articles 1 5 in your text