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6/20/2019

Sustainability Defined
Environmental Science, 15e
MILLER/SPOOLMAN
G. TYLER MILLER | SCOTT E. SPOOLMAN
• The ability of ecosystems and human
cultural systems to survive, flourish, and

1 adapt together to constantly changing


environments over long periods of time

Environmental Problems,
Their Causes, and
Sustainability

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1.1 What Are Some Principles of Environmental Science Is a Study of Our


Sustainability? Interactions With the World
• Life on the earth: • What is the environment?
– Has been sustained for billions of years by – Everything around us, living and nonliving
solar energy, biodiversity, and chemical • Ecosystem:
cycling
– Group of organisms in a defined geographic
– Depends on energy from the sun and natural
area (terrestrial or marine) that interact with
capital provided by the earth each other and their environment
– Can been preserved by shifting towards full-
• Environmentalism:
cost pricing and win-win solutions
– A social movement dedicated to sustaining
the earth’s life-support system
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Three Scientific Principles of Sustainability Lessons From Nature

• Dependence on solar energy


– Supplies nutrients, directly and indirectly
• Biodiversity
– Provides ecosystem services and adaptability
• Chemical/nutrient cycling
– In nature, waste = useful resources

Interdependence, not independence, is what sustains life

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Sustainability Has Certain Key


Sustainability Solutions
Components
• Natural capital • Solutions cross disciplines
– Natural resources – Scientific versus economic and political
– Ecosystem services solutions
• How do humans degrade natural capital? • There are trade-offs and compromises
– By using renewable resources faster than – Corporate subsidies can encourage
nature can restore them sustainability
– By overloading natural resources with – Daily individual and local contributions matter
pollution and waste

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Natural Capital = Natural Resources +


What is a Resource?
Ecosystem Services
• A resource is anything we obtain from the
environment
– Can be readily available for use
– Or – can require technology to acquire
• Sustainable solutions for resource use
– Reduce
– Reuse
– Recycle

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Resources Are Inexhaustible, Renewable, Countries Differ in Resource Use and


and Nonrenewable Environmental Impact
• Inexhaustible resources • Industrialized countries
– Perpetually available and expected to last – 17% of world’s population (United States,
• Renewable resources Canada, Western Europe)

– Replenished by natural processes within their • Developing countries


sustainable yield – 83% of world’s population
• Nonrenewable/exhaustible resources • Middle income, moderately developed countries
(China, India, Brazil)
– Available in fixed quantities that can be
• Low income, least developed countries (Nigeria,
renewed, but only through long-term geologic Bangladesh, Haiti)
processes
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1.2 How Are Our Ecological Footprints Natural Capital Degradation

Degradation of Normally Renewable Natural Resources


Affecting the Earth?
Climate Shrinking
• Over time, growth of ecological footprints change forests

Decreased
depletes and degrades earth’s natural Air pollution wildlife
habitats

capital (natural resources and ecosystem Soil erosion


Species
extinction
services) Water
pollution
– Environmental degradation
Declining
• Is there any good news? Aquifer
depletion
ocean fisheries

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Fig. 1-5

Pollution Comes From a Number of


We Are Living Unsustainably
Sources
• Pollution: contamination of the
environment by polluting substances
(pollutants) such as chemicals, noise, and
heat
– Naturally occurring (volcanoes)
– Contributed by humans (burning of fossil
fuels)

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Point Sources Nonpoint Sources

• Single, identifiable origins (e.g., • Dispersed and difficult to identify sources


smokestacks) (e.g., pesticides, trash in streams)

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We Are Degrading Commonly Shared


How Are We Dealing With Pollution?
Renewable Resources
• Pollution cleanup (post-production) • The tragedy of the commons
– Cleanup: dilution/reduction of pollutants – Cumulative degradation due to the overuse
• Pollution prevention (before pollution of:
• Open access, renewable resources (atmosphere,
occurs)
open ocean, fish)
– Reduces or eliminates the production of • Shared resources (grasslands, forests, streams)
pollutants
– The individual (incorrectly) believes that:
• “The little bit that I use or pollute is not enough to
matter, and anyway, it’s a renewable resource”

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What is an Ecological Footprint? Our Ecological Footprints Are Growing

• An ecological footprint • An ecological deficit:


– The amount of land and water needed to – Occurs when the ecological footprint is larger
supply a population or geographic area with than the biological capacity to replenish
renewable resources, as well as the ability to resources and absorb wastes/pollution
absorb/recycle wastes and pollution produced • In an ecological deficit, people are living
by resource usage
unsustainably
• The growth of ecological footprints – This creates adverse environmental impacts,
– Leads to degradation of natural capital which can be mitigated by upcycling
– Results in the creation of pollution and waste

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IPAT Is Another Environmental Impact 1.3 Why Do We Have Environmental


Model Problems?

• In the early 1970s, a new environmental


model called the IPAT model was
developed to determine the environmental
impact of human activities
Impact I =
Population P × Affluence A × Technology (T)

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The Human Population Is Growing at a


Our Environmental Worldview
Rapid Rate
• For each of these causes, what are two • Unchecked population/ecological footprint
environmental problems that result? growth results in natural capital
• Our own worldview determines whether degradation
we live sustainably or unsustainably • Can we slow down this degradation by
reducing the rate of population growth?

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Affluence Has Harmful Environmental


Exponential Growth
Effects
• High levels of consumption and waste of
resources
• More air pollution, water pollution, and
land degradation
• Acquisition of resources without regard for
the environmental effects of their
consumption

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Affluence Has Beneficial Environmental Poverty Can Have Harmful Environmental


Effects and Health Effects
• Better education • Harmful effects
• Scientific research – Short term requirements for survival can lead
to degraded forests, topsoil, grasslands,
• Technological solutions resulting in fisheries, and wildlife populations
improvements in environmental quality
(e.g., safe drinking water) • Health effects
– Malnutrition, limited access to sanitation/clean
drinking water, outdoor and indoor air
pollution

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Prices of Goods/Services Rarely Include


We Are Increasingly Isolated From Nature
Their Harmful Environmental/Health Costs
• More than half the world’s population lives
• Consumers are unaware of the damage
in urban environments technological
caused by their consumption
isolated from nature
• Current government subsidies often
• We are unaware of:
increase environmental degradation
– The origins of our food, water and other
– To live sustainably, government subsidies must
goods
become beneficial to the environment by:
– The pollution and waste generated by the
• Taxing pollution and waste
production of these goods and services
• Shifting from environmentally harmful to
environmentally beneficial subsidies
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People Have Different Views About


What is Your Environmental Worldview?
Environmental Problems/Solutions
• Each individual has his or her own • Three major types of world views:
environmental worldview – Human-centered
– A set of assumptions and values reflecting • Planetary management world view
how one thinks the world works and what • Stewardship world view
one’s role in it should be – Life-centered
– Earth-centered

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1.4 What Is an Environmentally We Must Protect Our Natural Capital and


Sustainable Society? Live Off of Its Income
• In order to live sustainably, one must live • Earth’s natural capital provides natural
off the natural resources without depleting income
or degrading the natural capital that – Renewable resources such as plants,
supplies these natural resources animals, soil, and clean water and air
• By living only on the natural income and
not depleting the natural capital, society
moves from an unsustainable lifestyle to a
sustainable one

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Additional Case Study:


A More Sustainable Future Is Possible
An Eco-City – Tianjin, China
• Given enough time, most degraded • Tianjin, China is a real-life entirely
environments can recover – but many will sustainable community developed on non-
take hundreds and even thousands of arable land located in an area facing a
years to recover water shortage in one of the fastest
– Time is our most scarce resource growing regions of China
– However, 5-10% of a population that changes – How does Tianjin reduce, reuse, and recycle
can make a difference its resources?
– Changes can occur in a shorter time than – Do you think you could live in this city? Why
previously thought or why not?

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Tiajin and the Three Big Ideas

• Create a more sustainable future


– Use natural capital and natural resources
– Reduce, reuse, and recycle
• Utilize full-cost pricing
– Be aware of ecological footprints – and
address cleanup and prevention
• Find win-win solutions
– Apply these solutions to other societies

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