Introduction to Environmental Science


Confusing terms

•environmental science

•environmental studies






•environmental science (or studies)

•interdisciplinary studies in natural sciences, including geology, climatology, hydrology, ecology, and sometimes including social sciences such as economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, geography


•social movement for protecting earth’s life support systems for us and other species

More definitions


•study of the interactions between organisms and between organisms and their environment


•includes all organisms living in an area and the physical environment with which these organisms interact.


What is environment?

•Environment can include both living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components.

•What makes up the Centralia College environment?

•A forest environment?

What Keeps Us Alive? Capital



•natural resources are part of natural capital


Population Growth

•6.4 billion and counting


•More in chapter 4

Economic Development

·Developed Countries

–mostly US, EU, Canada, Japan, Australia

–high per capita GDP

–1.2 billion people

·Developing Countries

–mostly Africa, Latin America, Asia

–moderate to low per capita GDP

–5.2 billion people


Which has a bigger environmental impact?

Is economic development positive?






·Perpetual – Always present; not degraded by human activities.

·Renewable - Can be formed or regenerated by natural processes. 

–Soil, Vegetation, Wildlife, Water

–Use must be sustainable to qualify.

·Non-Renewable - Not replaced by natural processes, or, rate of replacement is ineffective.

–Minerals, Fossil fuels


Tragedy of the Commons

·Garrett Hardin 1968

·Depletion or degradation of a potentially renewable resource to which people have free and unmanaged access.

·An example is the depletion of commercially desirable fish species in the open ocean beyond areas controlled by coastal countries.

·How do we avoid this?

Ecological Footprint

·Amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply each person or population with the renewable resources they use and to absorb or dispose of the wastes from such resource use.

Environmental and Resource Problems

Environmental and Resource Problems

·Five root causes

Environmental Impact

What is Our Greatest Environmental Problem?

• Disease

• Overpopulation

• Water Shortages

• Climate Changes

• Biodiversity Loss

• Poverty

• Malnutrition



·Current Emphasis (Reactive)

·Sustainability Emphasis (Proactive)