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Characteristics of environmental problems

Human induced probelms that:
-threaten human, animal, or plant life
-undercut the natural environment's ability to provide food and shelter for future generations and a standard living
-threaten natural treasures


basic population and consumption facts (drivers)

-population growth
-consumption patterns


phases of environmentalism

-Local pollution
-Regional and global issues


Environmental triggering events

-1977 Love Canal, Niagara Falls: many people living in houses built on
a former toxic waste dump become seriously ill.
-1979 Three Miles Island nuclear power core melt down: No health
consequences but severe blow to the image of the nuclear power
-1984 Bhopal disaster, India: gas leak in pesticide plant leads to death of
2000 people and to serious health problems for some 50,000.
-1986 Chernobyl nuclear power catastrophe: over ten years more than 12,000
people have died as a direct consequence of the


unique influencing factors of the 60s/70s

1) Political framework conditions of the 60s and early 70s
2) Advances in science and technology
3) Television changed people’s perception of the world and made environmental
pollution visible to everyone.


Club of Rome argument

- The world will face severe food shortages by the end of the seventies.
- Non-renewable energy resources will soon be depleted.
These trends will negatively affect economies around the world and lead to increasing
conflict about natural resources


Brundtland definition of Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs


three different ways to define meaning of sustainable development

-Spatial:location of where it is occurring
-temporal: future generations


basic idea behind the economic concepts of "discounting and substitution"

-Discounting the future:
Some economists assume that natural resources are worth more today
than they will be in the future because of technological progress.
-Substitution: we can turn natural resources into other forms of capital
worth as much or more to humans.
Different types of “capital”: infrastructure, human capital, knowledge,


three interesting facts from watching the bee movie

1. Bees account for 1/3 of our food
2.When bees become sick they leave their colony so they don't infect others
3. Queen bee lays at least 2 million eggs during her lifetime.



-Mechanistic view of nature as the sum of its
-Cartesian Dualism: human mind is what
separates humans from rest of nature.
“I think, therefore I am”
(Contrary to “monism”: all things are part of
-Rational foundation for enlightenment period:
use scientific knowledge to build a better
world. Education as pathway for this. Progress
is possible



-Favored a radical form of direct democracy, based on
the idea of economic, social, and political equality.
-Believed that man would be happiest if he lived in a
“state of nature” which he saw as a combination
of propertyless communal life combined with
individual independence.
-Key problem: how to reconcile liberty and equality



The book “Walden” (1854) became the first classic of American nature
writing. Advocated a nature-based spirituality, and the preservation of
nature for its own sake.



Nature and wilderness have a spiritual quality that needs to be
protected. Muir was instrumental in establishment of the Yosemite
National Park in 1890. (Yellowstone established in 1872)
First “deep green” activist and founder of the Sierra Club.



-Wrote several books on marine environment, such as The
Sea Around Us in 1951, which became a bestseller.
-In 1962, disturbed by the growing and indiscriminate use of
synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson
publishes Silent Spring, which criticized the practices of the
agricultural and chemical industries.



Renowned celluar biologist. Became concerend about
radioactive fallout spreading from nuclear-weapons
tests in the Nevada desert.
Publishes Science and Ethics in 1963, and The Closing
Circle in 1971. Faulty technological choices made to maximize
short-term profits are mostly to blame for
environmental degradation. Poses “Third Law of
Ecology:” Nature knows best.



On the Principle of Population. Population growth will
outgrow humanities ability to produce enough food.
Pessimistic view of the role of technological progress.