ENV SCI MIDTERM NOTES - Chapter 1- Fundamental Issues in...

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Chapter 1- Fundamental Issues in Env Science Why is science necessary to solve environmental problems? without the scientific method we would have no way of testing hypotheses to identify potential environmental problems and solutions or knowing whether a proposed solution to an env problem will work or not. We can also make mathematical models based on scientific principles and assumptions to predict consequences. -population is an underlying environmental problem -sustainability is a long-term concept that refers to finding ways to ensure future generations have equal access to resources, and our actions today won’t do irreversible harm to the environment -Gaia Hypothesis: life on Earth, through a complex system of positive & negative feedback, regulates environment to help sustain life -placing values on various aspects of the env requires understanding of the science involved but also depends on judgements concerning uses and aesthetics of the env and on our moral commitments to life and future generations -science’s goal is to understand how nature works. Decisions on environmental issues must begin with an examination of scientific evidence, but also require analysis of economic, social, and political consquences. Solutions will reflect religious, aesthetic, and ethical values as well. -science begins with careful observations which scientists form hypotheses from. then test on controlled experiments -a system is a set of components that function together as a whole. Env studies deal with complex systems at every level, and solutions to env problems often involve understanding systems and rates of change -systems respond to inputs and have outputs. Feedback is a special kind of system response. Positive feedback can be destabilizing, whereas negative feedback tends to stabilize, encouraging more constant conditions in a system. -principle of environmental unity: everything affects everything else. [links among parts of systems] -two important aspects of exponential growth: growth rate as percentage and doubling time -an ecosystem is a community of diff species and local nonliving environment in which energy flows and chemicals cycle -disturbance and change are normal no such thing as balance of nature [long-term state without change] -overshoot occurs when the size of a population exceeds its carrying capacity -solving env problems may be particulartly difficult as a result of exponential growth, lag times, and the possibility of irreversible consequences -The Precautionary Principle is emerging as a proactive tool in addressing potential env problems Chapter 2- Human Population Growth Why is human population growth the underlying problem? because there are already too many of us, because more of us are living longer, and because our modern technology allows each one of us to have an
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This note was uploaded on 05/05/2008 for the course ES 2 taught by Professor Keller during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.

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ENV SCI MIDTERM NOTES - Chapter 1- Fundamental Issues in...

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