Bild 18 - Week 1 - Handout#1 Our Precarious Earth and its...

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Handout #1 Our Precarious Earth and its Biosphere 3/29/2010 Overpopulation: 1. Overpopulation is the driving force behind environmental problems. 2. The world’s population is now about 6.3 billion . 3. “Discovered” by the Dutch Explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, Easter Island was a barren grassland without a single tree or bush over 10 feet high at the time of arrival. a. Around 300 statues erected along coast; Heights of 33 feet; Weighing up to 82 tons. b. Archeology studies: i. Radio Carbon dates estimate first human arrival around 400 AD, also supported by linguistic research. ii. Garbage heaps have shown that early Easter Islanders subsisted on fish, seabirds, and a large quantity of dolphin . iii. Archeologists put the population at between 7,000 and 20,000 at Easter’s height, around 1,400AD. Thus, there were plenty of people to carve, transport and erect the statues. iv. What happened to the trees? 1. Forests (palm trees) were cleared to plant gardens, build canoes , and to transport and erect statues. 2. Native birds responsible for pollinating trees’ flowers and dispersing their fruit had died out. 3. Thus, there were no more canoes to hunt dolphin or fish. v. Soil erosion ruined crops and gave no hope for the forests return. c. Result of overpopulation: Warfare and Cannibalism d. Similar scenarios: Chaco Canyon, Middle East, Petra, pyramids at Chefren, and Mayan ruins (all went from being a forest to a desert). 4. Today the US, Europe and parts of Asia are the top resource-users. Global Warming: 1. Human activities are responsible for global warming. a. We add 6 billion tons of CO 2 to the atmosphere every year. b. Only 1% of this CO 2 can be recycled by the entire photosynthetic capacity of the Earth.
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