What do you need to have a sustainable society? What is sustainable development?
Understand the components and important of natural capital, then recognize that many human
activities degrade natural capital by using normally renewable resources faster than nature can
Environmental sustainability = economic sustainability
Sustainable Development: Environmentally Sustainable Development asks people to live without
degrading the environment or disregarding future generations (i.e. deforestation induced erosion
What is natural capital/natural resources?
Be able to list them!
Natural capital: Natural resources and natural services make up the earth’s natural capital
support and sustain the earth’s life and economies.
Natural capital = natural resources + natural services
Natural resources: air, water, soil, land, life (biodiversity), nonrenewable minerals (iron, sand),
renewable energy (sun, wind, water flows), nonrenewable energy (fossil fuels, nuclear power)
What are natural services? - be able to name them!
Air purification, water purification, soil renewal, nutrient recycling, food production, pollination,
grassland renewal, forest renewal, waste treatment, climate control, population control(species
interactions), pest control
What is an ecosystem?
Ecosystems are communities of plants, animals, and microbes along with
the abiotic components such as soil and water. Some ecosystems appear to be lifeless or useless
such as deserts, but the resulting community (cactus, snakes, etc.) is sustainable
available abiotic components - with water being the limiting factor!!
What is the link between biodiversity and natural services?
Relationship between Biodiversity and Ecosystem (ie, Natural) Services:
Certain species provide ecosystem services
Examples are species that protect soil from erosion (grass), influencing the characteristics
of the atmosphere (trees), transform energy from the sun into food energy (plants), and
modify the ecosystem to allow other species to exist (elephants).
In other words, there is a link between biodiversity and natural capital
What perpetual vs. nonrenewable vs. renewable resources?
Can you differentiate between them?
Perpetual: Direct solar energy, winds tides flowing water. Nonrenewable: fossil fuels (oil, natural
gas, coal), metallic minerals (iron, copper, aluminum), non-metallic minerals (clay, sand,
phosphates). Renewable: fresh air, fresh water, fertile soil, plants and animals (biodiversity).
Renewable – can be renewed on a time scale comparable to our lifespan – typically in 0-100
Trees are a good example of a renewable resource. While biodiversity is renewable, very
often the time scale is on the order of 1000s of years!!
This does imply that new species can be
created in that time period (that may take millions of years