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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This note was uploaded on 01/10/2012 for the course SOSC 111 taught by Professor Wonganson during the Summer '10 term at HKUST.

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

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