Environmental Science – Impact and Worldviews

Hey everybody! Welcome back to our third talk on environmental science. We will be talking about our environmental impact and multiple worldviews that people have on our planet.

Environmental impact is the impact that humans have on the environment. Whatever impact we have on this planet, good or bad, is our impact. To measure the impact a model was formed:

Population*Technological Impact per Consumption*Consumption per Person (affluence)=Impact of the Population

This model is very tricky. If there is a high population but low consumption per person, the impact is still very high because of the large population (China). If there is a low population but a high consumption per person, the impact is also very high (USA). Consumption per person has a higher impact than population size. Only if the population is moderate, and each person consumes sustainably will our impact on the Earth be reduced.

The concept of a feedback loop is very important. They are processes that either promote or degrade the process itself. Confusing? Here are two types of loops that might help you understand this concept better:

A positive feedback loop is when the product of a process promotes the process rather than halting it. These loops are for systems which need to be continuous or running in abundance. An example would be deforestation. Deforestation leads to erosion, which in turn leads to more loss of vegetation.

A negative feedback loop is when the product of the process lowers the rate or amount of times that the process runs, which maintains stability in environmental systems. These systems run only under circumstances where it needs to be run. An example is the simple predator-prey population relationship. As a prey population grows the predator population grows as well, but that causes overhunting and a drop in the prey population. This example is more complex because it includes a positive feedback loop as well.

Environmental impact is also very dependent on economic practices. Economic degradation is when a product or resources is reduced in its amount by 80% or more, making the resource rarer and therefore more expensive. Environmental degradation is when the resources renewal rate is passed. In other words when we use a certain resource much faster than it can replenish naturally. The highest rate a resource, specifically renewable, can be used sustainably so it does not deplete is called the sustainable yield.

The other topic of this talk is the world views towards our planet and our relationship with it. There are two main worldviews:

The Anthropocentric worldview is more like humans are given the vast expanse of resources that this planet has to provide and that it is ours to use and conquer. The Biocentric worldview is more in favor of the environment, saying that we are part of the huge diversity of life that exists on the planet and that we must do our part to keep our Earth safe, not take more than we give back, and respect all species rights to exist. Each worldview has two subviews. Stewardship and environmental wisdom are a mix of both biocentric and anthropocentric views.

The last section is about 4 different “eras” in environmental history.

  • Tribal – We were hunter-gatherers, living off the land, with no impact on the environment
  • Frontier – European colonization and imperialism, the world is for us to use and conquer, where impact rose
  • Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions – This is when businesses and corporations came to life, ironically causing a lot of pollution, unsustainable resource use, and mass environmental degradation, hurting the very capability of many of Earth’s environments to promote and support life
  • Conservation – Leaders in the world began to pass regulations and laws to protect the environment such as Theodore Roosevelt, Nixon, the EPA, etc.

Now it is our era, and it is time for us to decide how we are going to deal with our planet. Are we going to ignore environmental issues, or make a stand to help our Mother Earth? After all, we would not exist without it. Remember to live a sustainably by saving water, electricity, and not wasting food. Always reduce, reuse, and recycle. 😀 The simplest actions can have the greatest effects. Thank you, and stay tuned for our next talk!

-Written By: Neil D. 2/10/2019

Credit:

Living in the Environment –

G. TYLER MILLER, JR.
SCOTT E. SPOOLMAN

3 thoughts on “Environmental Science – Impact and Worldviews

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