ES2MT1StudyGuide - Environmental Studies 2: Midterm 1 Study...

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Environmental Studies 2: Midterm 1 Study Guide Environmental Science o Study of what leads to environmental problems and how they can be solved o Group of linked social and physical sciences o Attempts to explain how life is sustained o Themes: earth as a living system, etc. Cumulative effect of small actions The environment will be the defining theme of our generation Systems Theory o An interdisciplinary field of science that studies the complex systems in nature and society A set/collection of objects that work together and relate to produce an outcome Example: Car, Geosystem, Ecosystem Systems allow you to take complex components and whittle them down Issues of Change and Scale o Change: part of the way of the universe – the only constant in the universe Normal, necessary, anxiety producing, deliberate, predictable, easy or hard to recognize Types of change: Gradual: normal, expected (child growth) Sudden: new conditions are established Accelerating: may be difficult to deal with Surprising: come out of the blue Complex and linked: chaos, feedbacks o Scale: social or human realms (humans integrated with the environment) Atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere Global scale – local scale (local leads to global results) Biomes, ecosystems, populations and communities, time scales and cycles Science and Values o Science provides potential solutions, the ones we pick reflect our values o Choose goal based on knowledge and values, then find a way to attain that goal o Precautionary principle: 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 Requires critical thinking about a variety of environmental concerns, such as the manufacture and use of chemicals like pesticides, etc. Precautionary principle would argue (in case of potentially harmful pesticide) that we should continue to investigate but, to be on the safe side, should not wait to take cost-effective precautionary measures to prevent environmental damage or health problems. Proactive rather than reactive tool o Placing a value on the environment (based on 8 justifications) Utilitarian (materialistic): sees some aspect of the environment as valuable because it benefits individuals economically or is directly necessary for human survival (mangrove swamps provide shrimp that are the livelihood of fishermen) Ecological : an ecosystem is necessary for the survival of some species of interest to us, or that the system itself provides some benefit (mangrove swamps provide habitat for marine fish – although we do not eat the mangrove trees, we eat the fish that depend on them) Aesthetic : has to do with our appreciation of the beauty of nature (people would rather live in a world with
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ES2MT1StudyGuide - Environmental Studies 2: Midterm 1 Study...

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