Influences of the Environmental Movement: Environmental Disasters
- 20th of April 1986, Chernobyl plant in Ukraine exploded. The incident raised questions about the general safety of nuclear power.
- 11th of March 2011, Fukushima power plant was hit by a tsunami wave. Following the incident, all 48 Japanese plants were shut down. The move away from nuclear power was replicated around the world, for example in Germany. This led to an increase in the use of fossil fuels, however.
- 1956: Minamata disease in Japan due to release of mercury into the water.
- 1986: at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a nuclear reactor exploded
Influences of the Environmental Movement:
- Literature, Media, Technology, International Agreements, Environmental Disasters have led to:
- Local and global environmental pressure groups
- The concept of stewardship
- Increased media coverage and consequent public awareness
Influences of the Environmental Movement, Literature
- 1962: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring made a strong case against pesticides and DDT in relation to biomagnification.
- 1979: James Lovelock’s Gaia proposed that the Earth was a living organism with homeostasis and that human activity was disturbing it.
Influences of the Environmental Movement, Media
- An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore 2006 made global warming accessible and well known.
- Greenpeace: Save the whales campaign against Soviets served as a blueprint for future environmental movements. anti nuclear testing protests
What is the idea of stewardship?
It is the belief that every person has a responsibility to look after the planet for themselves and for future generations. This idea is prevalent in pressure groups such as NGOs.
Influences of the Environmental Movement, International Agreements:
- Rio Earth Summit 1992 and the adoption of Agenda 21: Encouraged people to think about the indirect services of ecosystems other than economic services, it emphasized relationships between human rights, social development, women and sustainable development and urged people to perceive economic development differently under the light of sustainable development.
- 1997 Kyoto Climate Change Protocol: First protocol that recognized the enhanced greenhouse effect
- NOTE: Summits and international agreements may not achieve their goals. However, they’re important in changing government, individual and organization attitudes as they serve as catalysts for discussion and highlight the very importance of the issues.
What is an environmental value system?
A particular worldview or set of paradigms that shape the way an individual, or group of people, perceive and evaluate environmental issues. A person’s EVS is influenced by culture, religion, economic factors and socio-political context.
What are some examples for EVS inputs and outputs?
- Inputs: education, culture, economic factors, the media (example, buddhist societies perceive humans as an intrinsic part of nature. Buddhist monks in thailand are involved in ecological conservation projects)
- Outputs: decisions, perspectives, courses of action
Anthropocentric short values:
- Economic growth and resource exploitation with consensus among representative groups
- Taxes, fees, arrangements, compensation
Technocentric short values:
- Optimism in humanity’s ability to solve issues through technological innovation
- Scientific and technological expertise provide the basic foundation of economic growth or public safety policies.
- Doesn’t change habits, just replaces sources
Ecocentric short values:
- Ecology and nature are central to humanity
- Less materialism
- No faith in tech
Deep ecologists short values:
- Ecological and natural laws dictate human morality.
- Biorights are of utmost importance
- Lack of faith in modern technology and its tendencies to be associated with elitist expertise, central state authority and inherently anti-democratic institutions.
- Economic growth should provide for basic needs only
Soft ecologists short values:
- Smallness of scale and community identity
- Participation in community affairs, minority rights, education
Increasing demands for water resources: technocentric
- Innovation and the ability to use untapped reserves
- Iceberg transport
- Wastewater purification
- Won’t change habits
Increasing demands for water resources: ecocentric
- Encourage conservation
- Highlight misuse and overuse
- Change habits
- Raise awareness
Different EVSs view the different components of the biosphere differently based on cultural, aesthetic and bequest significance. Intrinsic value is one that has an inherent worth, irrespective of economic considerations.
What are the strengths of models?
More accessible, easier to understand, allows for scientists to make predictions in a short period of time
What are the limitations of models?
- Very simplified, not all variables are taken into account
- Models may be too complex or oversimplified
- The model is only as good as the data used.
Why are grasslands resilient?
Extensive root and nutrient systems in soil for quick secondary succession.
What is an Ecosystem?
Is a community of independent organisms and the physical environment they inhabit.
What is sustainability?
The use and management of resources that allows full natural replacement of the resources exploited and full recovery of the ecosystems affected.
How to apply sustainability?
- Sustainable material cycles (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus etc.)
- Social systems that contribute to a culture of sufficiency
- Ecological land usage
Why are we unsustainable?
Overpopulation, financial motives,( overgrazing, overcultivation)
A global perspective when dealing with the concept of sustainability is important. Why?
- Many issues have global impacts and ecosystems are affected by global processes.
- Sometimes local solutions may also be fit (point-source pollution)
What is sustainable development?
- Meeting the demands of the present without endangering the capacity of future generations to meet the demands of tomorrow.
- Depends on personal choices backed up by legislation.
- Has three pillars:
- Economic development
- Social development
- Environmental protection
- The amount of natural capital must remain the same.
What are some quantitative factors that may be taken into consideration when measuring sustainability?
Explain Environmental Impact Assessments:
Establishes the possible environmental, social and economic impacts of the project on the environment and suggests mitigation strategies. Countries may involve EIAs in their legal framework and take action. In some countries, EIAs take second place to economic concerns and are often ignored. EIAs carry out baseline studies, however not all impacts may be identified due to the high complexity of ecosystems.
What are the criticisms to EIAs?
- Lack of standard practice
- May be ignored
- Lack of inclusion of indirect impacts
What is an ecological footprint?
It is the estimated area necessary to sustainably support a given population based on its current rate of resource consumption.
What is pollution?
- It is the addition of a substance or agent to the environment by human activity at a rate higher than at which it can be rendered harmless by the environment.
- Can be organic or inorganic substances, light, sound, heat, biological agents (invasive species)
Primary vs. Secondary pollution
- Primary is active on emission (CO2)
- Secondary is arising from primary undergoing physical or chemical change (ozone)
What is point and non-point pollution?
- Point pollution arises from a single, clearly identifiable site.
- Non-point pollution arises from numerous widely dispersed origins.
What is Bioaccumulation?
Is the build up of non biodegradable chemicals in the body
What is Biomagnification?
Is the process whereby the concentration of a chemical increases at each trophic level
What are the methods of Pollution Management?
- Changing human activity to prevent pollution will be the most effective
- Reduction of pollution through legislation or technology
- Clean up or restoration of damaged systems is costly and not effective (replantation or removal from environment)
How to achieve sustainable development:
- Environment: reduce, reuse, recycle,
- Renewable energy sources
- Protected wildlife
- Education and awareness
- Politial action
- Social stablity
- Reduced pollution
- Energy efficient
- Economics of sufficiency not greed
Explain Energy security
- Is the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.
- Depends on adequate, reliable amd affordable supply of energy that provides a degree of independence.
- Long term: timely investments
- Short term: adaptation to changes in demand-supply
What does the energy source choice of a country depend on?
- Availability and cost
- Environmental factors (solar energy not possible in northern countries in winter)
- Scientific or technological capacity
- Cultural factors (awareness level of society)
- Political factors (Turkey and Russia for example)
Energy Security Factors
- Political stability
- Sudden rises in cost
- Exhaustion or disruption of supply
Explain the scramble for the Arctic
Drilling access to retrieve oil and gas will be improved as a result of rising temperatures. The arctic circle could hold a quarter of the world’s undiscovered reserves. Overlapping arctic claims may lead to conflict in the area.
What is climate
Describes how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long periods of time
What is weather
Describes the conditions in the atmosphere for a short period of time
Influences on climate:
- Ocean and atmospheric circulatory systems: Currents move and store heat, Varying temperatures lead to different pressure points (Polar, Ferrel, Hadley)
- Latitude and altitude: colder away from equator
- Distance to shore: The closer to the shore you are, the milder the cold at night and the warmth during day.
What are the environmental effects of climate change?
- Melting of polar caps, release of NH4, reduction of albedo, positive feedback cycle
- Increase in sea levels, flooding, migration
- Change in biome distribution
- Increased frequency of extreme weather events
- Loss of biodiversity (coral reefs)
Why is there a lag in the effects of climate change?
Positive and negative feedback systems take a long time to take effect. By the time the effects appear, it may be too late and the tipping point may have been reached already.
An example of negative feedback cycle in climate change?
Increased carbon leads to increased photosynthesis, which lowers carbon.
What are the societal changes of climate change?
- Water shortages, conflict
- Relocation and immigration
- Increased disease
- Increased crop growing areas in tundra biome
- Oil and gas reserves are more accessible
- Increased summer tourism
- Famine due to draught
Why are LEDCs more vulnerable to climate change?
- Less mitigation effort due to less infrastructure
- Less alternatives
- (bangladesh due to flooding)
What is Adaptation
- Living with the consequences of climate change. Minimizing negative effects and maximizing positive effects.
- Protect cities from storm surges
- Protect crops from droughts, planting crops in previously unsuitable climates, vaccination programmes to prevent tropical diseases
- Dependent on technological capacity. Thus, MEDCs must provide support to LEDCs, as they are more vulnerable.
What is Mitigation
- Reducing or stabilizing GHG emissions and their removal from the atmosphere
- Cap and trade systems,
- carbon tax
- Carbon offset schemes
- energy efficient products and alternatives to fossil fuels
- geoengineering (Carbon Capture Systems, reforestation fertilizing oceans)
- but past emissions will continue to have an effect for decades to come
Non-renewable resources will be more expensive in the future. Why?
Taxes, scarcity, extraction will be hard