Volume 2

Volume 2 - I. The Environment 1 The Earths Biosphere: Our...

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1 I. The Environment
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2 The Earth’s Biosphere: Our Life Support System Our common shared biosphere is our planet’s life support system, capturing light via photosynthesis, conserving energy and matter, and obeying the basic laws of physics and thermodynamics. These laws are fundamental, governing all occurrences in the universe. All biological systems must abide by them. We must function within their confines. In spite of the universality of these laws, problems arise because of humans and their activities. There are simply too many of us for our planet. We are consuming too many irreplaceable resources and causing long-lasting planetary damage. This last problem is tremendously enhanced by human greed and a disregard by many for the biosphere. When our numbers were much smaller, our impact could be absorbed. This is not so today. Because we operate within the confines of the universal laws, we cannot continue to squander resources as we have in the past. Consider the following question: How much damage is caused to the natural environment in order to make a profit from the sale of a consumable item? Consider that many of the consumables produced are dispensable and often of minimal value. Realize that valuable resources must be used for their production. Moreover, these products ultimately become waste that must be disposed of, often in a manner that harms the environment. Why allow the continuation of activities that damage our common life support system? We already know that much of this damage cannot be repaired without a human population decrease. Why allow an increase in our population, recognizing that the consequence will be immense human suffering? Why allow resource consumption, pollution and global warming when we know that their continuance will prevent us from solving global problems and meeting the immense challenges that lie before us? We behave as though we have no regard for future generations. Why damage paradise beyond repair with 6.5 billion humans and the addition of about 75 million more annually? If we cannot solve our present problems, how can we ever hope to solve future more serious problems with an even greater population? The answer is obvious: we will never solve these problems if we increase our population, especially if we in parallel, increase resource consumption. In fact, we need to consciously decrease our population using the very means that allow maximization of women's freedom and provide the opportunity for universal quality of life. Excess resource consumption is not one of the requirements for quality life. It is now painfully obvious that our planetary life support system cannot sustain our overshoot population. The increasing consumption of non-renewable resources is causing global climate change, oceanic acidification and loss of biodiversity. All spell disaster, and consequently, each one of these problems is of immense importance to us all. Increased demands for the essentials: water and food, basic health care and education, already require
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2011 for the course BILD 18 taught by Professor Saier during the Spring '07 term at UCSD.

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Volume 2 - I. The Environment 1 The Earths Biosphere: Our...

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