08+Environment

08+Environment - SOSC111 Science, Technology & Society...

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SOSC111 Lecture 8 Environment
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What is nature? What is natural? We tend to think that technology has no part in nature, and furthermore, that human activities are also distinct from nature. This has led us to the idea that technology is somehow “un-natural” . Indeed, this is one of the meanings we used for defining technology at the beginning of the course.
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Where is Nature? That we define human activities and nature as distinct does not mean that in the real world they are distinct. There are few places in the world (if any) that are not fundamentally influenced by human activity. What about the Antarctic ? The entire planet is now influenced by many socio-technical systems. The planet has become a kind of eco-technological system
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Environmental Developments Humans were not always such a dominant feature of the Earth’s ecology. The most fundamental shift occurred with the Neolithic revolution, when humans began changing the environment to suit their needs . No longer were humans simply living with the environment, they were making their own environment.
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How Old is Environmental Destruction? Humans started the forced extinction of animal and plant species a long time ago Deforestation Trees were cut for firewood, construction of houses, ship-building, etc. Habitat destruction Habitat = “a place to live” – many animals have lost a place to live Species invasions from other continents For example, rabbits were introduced in Australia and ruined the habitat for other animals
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The problems continue… Fundamentally, what we are doing today is no different from environmental exploitation of the last few hundred years, except: We appear to be seriously harming the ecosystem’s ability to repair itself . Our own techno-economic systems may fail due to a damaged and exhausted ecosystem.
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Global Climate Change: A Dangerous Experiment Human activities appear to contribute to global climate change Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the atmosphere Average temperature rising Higher temperature leads to increased melting of ice Sea levels rising More storms and floods
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Atmospheric CO 2 is increasing
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Global temperature is closely correlated with atmospheric [CO2] …
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IPCC (2007) A2 : focuses on economic growth B1 : focuses on environmental sustainability Global warming projections
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Actual emissions are near the “worst case” emission scenario
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Trouble: Global temperature rising
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Actual surface temperature ( o C) change between 1976 and 2006
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Arctic ice is melting… 1979 2003
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Antarctic Warming The map shows temperature increase from 1957 to 2006 Red color shows the largest increase in temperature Warming in West Antarctica and the Peninsula can cause collapse of ice shelf , which would raise sea levels dramatically
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Climate Scientists Most scientists studying climate have supported a consensus that
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08+Environment - SOSC111 Science, Technology & Society...

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