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Slide 1 - SCIENCE, SOCIETY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT I Anna Kajzer SC 1101
Slide 2 - What is Environmental Science? Study of how the natural world works, how our environment affects us, and how we affect our environment. Environmental scientists study issues of central importance to our world and its future. Rapidly changing global conditions demand that we act now to solve problems.
Slide 3 - It is an interdisciplinary field, drawing techniques from multiple disciplines and bringing their research into a broad synthesis. It encompasses both the natural sciences and the social sciences. IT IS THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, HOW IT WORKS, AND OUR INTERACTIONS WITH IT. (Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting the natural world from undesirable changes brought about by human choices).
Slide 4 - What is environment? Total of our surroundings. Consists of all the living and non-living things around us with which we interact. Encompasses built environments, such as structures and living spaces as well as natural components such as plants and animals. Includes complex webs of social relationships and institutions that shape our daily lives.
Slide 5 - Why is environmental science important? The astronaut’s view of Earth suggests that its systems are finite and limited. Increases in population, technological powers, and resource consumption alter our planet and damage the systems that keep us alive. Can help us avoid past mistakes. Most civilizations have fallen after degrading their environments, leaving devastated landscapes behind (The lesson of Easter Island).
Slide 6 - What are natural resources? Various substances and energy sources we need to survive. Renewable natural resources, such as sunlight, wind and wave energy are inexhaustible. Others, such as timber, water and soil can be replenished by the environment. Nonrenewable natural resources, such as mineral ores and crude oil are formed more slowly than we use them. Once we deplete them, they are no longer available. 6
Slide 7 - What are ecosystem services and why we rely on them? Air and water purification, climate regulation, plant pollination are some examples. We have degraded nature’s ability to provide these services by depleting resources, destroying habitats, and generating pollution.
Slide 8 - Why environmental science tries to answer the question of whether the natural systems of the planet can sustain current and future populations? Population growth amplifies our impact. From less than a million people for most of its history population increased to over 6.9 billion today.
Slide 9 - Why does resource consumption exerts social and environmental pressures? Garret Hardin analyzed how people approach resource use and called this TRAGEDY OF COMMONS. Resource that are open to unregulated exploitation, the “commons”, will eventually be depleted.
Slide 10 - Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees developed the concept of the ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT. The ecological footprint is the sum of the amount of Earth’s surface “used” once all direct and indirect impacts are totaled. It expresses the environmental impact of an individual or a population by the cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials they consume and to recycle the waste they produce. They used these calculations to determine that we are depleting our resources about 30% faster than they are being replenished.
Slide 11 - What is science? A systematic process for learning about the world and testing our understanding of it (modern scientists).
Slide 12 - Why knowledge of science and technology is increasingly important? Our society becomes more dependent on it for the crucial elements of transportation, communications, medicine, and agriculture. It allows society to make informed decisions.
Slide 13 - What is scientific method? A technique for testing ideas with observations. Scientists make observations, take measurements, and design tests to determine if ideas are supported by evidence. An explanation that resists attempts to disprove it is accepted as a true explanation.
Slide 14 - What are the steps of scientific method? Make observations. Ask questions in the investigation process. Develop a hypothesis (a statement that explains a phenomenon or answers a scientific question). Make predictions (s specific statement that can be directly and unequivocally tested). Test the predictions. Results may reject or fail to reject hypothesis. Theory – well tested explanation of one or more cause and effect relationships that has been extensively validated.
Slide 15 - KONWLEDGE GAINED FROM SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH MAY BE APPLIED TO HELP FULFILL SOCIETY’S NEEDS AND ADDRESS SOCIETY’S PROBLEMS.
Slide 16 - What is an experiment? An activity designed to test the validity of a hypothesis. It involves manipulating variables, or conditions that can change (the independent variable; the dependent variable depends of the first variable).
Slide 17 - What are the types of the experiments? Controlled experiments (all variables are controlled except the tested one). They have a treatment area that is manipulated and another that is not, called a control. Manipulative experiment in which the independent variable is manipulated. Natural experiment in which hypothesis is tested by searching for correlation (a statistical relationship between variables), eg. Climate change.
Slide 18 - What is a “paradigm shift”? A dominant view regarding a topic, based on the facts and experiments known at that time. Thomas Kuhn argued that science goes through periodic revolutions in which one dominant view is abandoned for another as more information becomes available.
Slide 19 - What is sustainability and sustainable development? How to live within our planet’s resources (endurance). We have been drawing down Earth’s natural capital, its accumulated wealth of resources, 30% faster than it if being replenished. This cannot be sustained. We face challenges in agriculture, pollution, energy, and biodiversity. Sustainable development is the use of the resources in a manner that does not compromise the future availability of resources.
Slide 20 - What does sustainable development involve? Environmental protection (Cornucopian claim that the quality of human existence is improving; Cassandras prophesize imminent doom). Economic well being. Social equity. WE NEED TO SATISFY A TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE: ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING.
Slide 21 - What are sustainable solutions? Legislation and technological advances are decreasing pollution in wealthier countries. Advances in conservation biology enable scientists and policymakers to work together to protect habitat and organisms. Soil conservation, irrigation, and organic methods are improving agriculture.
Slide 22 - Renewable energy and efficiency efforts are gaining ground Steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.
Slide 23 - CONCLUSION Finding effective ways of living peacefully, healthfully, and sustainably on our diverse and complex planet will require a thorough scientific understanding of both natural and social systems. Identifying a problem is the first step in devising a solution to it. Science in general, and environmental science in particular, can help efforts to develop balanced and workable solutions to the many challenges we face and to create a better world for us and our children.
Slide 24 - What do I need to research at home? (choose one) 1. Look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Sites in Georgia. http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/ Write down names and locations in GA 2. Conduct an Internet search of Easter Island. What is it like today? How many people live there? What are the main resources?
Slide 25 - 3. Research one of the success stories, the island of Tikopia, which lies in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia and New Guinea, west of Tonga and Fuji. (Compare and contrast the stable culture that has lasted at least 3,000 years on Tikopia with the fallen and failed culture of Easter Island. What are the major differences in how the people approached the idea of sustainability?).