First Edition   ©2016

Environment: Science, Issues, Solutions

Manuel Molles (University of New Mexico (emeritus)) , Brendan Borrell

  • ISBN-10: 0-7167-6187-4; ISBN-13: 978-0-7167-6187-7; Format: Cloth Text

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Chapter 1: Introduction


Environment is everything

Science uses a formal method to gather evidence about how nature works

Scientific evidence can reduce uncertainty about natural phenomena

The integrity of science depends on following a strict code of ethical conduct


Human impact and environmental awareness began long ago

Human impact on the environment has become a global issue


Environmental ethics extends moral responsibilities to the environment

Sustainability as a pragmatic solution to environmental woes

Environmental science provides a comprehensive framework for addressing environmental issues

Chapter 2: Ecosystems and Economic Systems


2.1 Ecosystems and economic systems are built on matter

2.2 Energy makes matter move

2.3 Energy flows through ecosystems, while matter recycles

2.4 Economic systems and their currencies take several forms


2.5 Energy fuels, and limits, the economy

2.6 How we represent economic systems can have environmental consequences

2.7 Unregulated use of resources can lead to a "Tragedy of the Commons"


2.8 Economics should include environmental costs and benefits

2.9 Property rights can lead to environmental preservation

2.10 Alternative paths to sustainability: Tragedy of the Commons revisited

Chapter 3: Conservation of Endangered Species


3.1 Genetic diversity is essential to the evolution and survival of populations

3.2 Distribution and abundance are key indicators of population security

3.3 Populations change

3.4 The life history of a species influences its capacity to recover from disturbance

3.5 Species interactions define biological communities


3.6 Habitat destruction and alteration are the most serious threats to biodiversity

3.7 Invasive species threaten native species

3.8 Plant and wildlife trafficking are growing dangers to species

3.9 Pest and predator control have pushed species to the brink of extinction


3.10 National laws and international treaties protect endangered species

3.11 Banning of a toxin and captive breeding brought peregrine falcons back from the brink of extinction

3.12 Population ecology provides a conceptual foundation for wolf restoration

3.13 Restoration of North American gray wolves has required working through conflict

3.14 Wild populations are sources of significant economic benefits

Chapter 4: Species and Ecosystem Diversity


4.1 Species and ecosystem diversity are key elements of biodiversity

4.2 Geographic patterns and processes influence biodiversity

4.3 Some species influence biodiversity much more than others

4.4 Ecological succession affects community composition and diversity

4.5 Global species richness results from a balance between speciation and extinction


4.6 Habitat fragmentation reduces biodiversity

4.7 Valuable services of ecosystems are threatened

4.8 Many invasive species harm ecosystems


4.9 The number of protected areas has grown rapidly

4.10 Nongovernmental conservation complements governmental programs

4.11 Sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem services requires active management

4.12 Integrating conservation with local communities can help sustain protected areas

Chapter 5: Human Populations


5.1 Human population density varies significantly across Earth

5.2 The global population will grow into the middle of this century

5.3 The age structure of a population gives clues to its growth or decline


5.4 Fertility ranges greatly among countries and regions

5.5 Development varies widely among countries

5.6 Population growth and development generally increase environmental impact

5.7 Developmental differences between populations create migration pressures


5.8 Most nations have national policies aimed at managing population growth

5.9 Human development is associated with lower fertility and reduced emigration

5.10 The challenge: Achieve high development and sustainable resource use

Chapter 6: Sustaining Water Supplies


6.1 The hydrologic cycle moves water around Earth

6.2 The El Niño Southern Oscillation causes periods of dry years and wet years


6.3 Access to adequate water supplies as a human right

6.4 Humans already use most of the world’s accessible freshwater supplies

6.5 Groundwater is being depleted faster than it is replenished

6.6 Managing water for human use threatens aquatic biodiversity


6.7 Water conservation can increase water use efficiency substantially

6.8 Reclamation and recycling are saving water throughout the world

6.9 Desalination taps Earth’s largest reservoir of water

6.10 Conservation and restoration can protect aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity

Chapter 7: Sustaining Terrestrial Resources


7.1 Climate, biodiversity, and nutrients influence terrestrial primary production

7.2 Agriculture, forestry, and grazing systems are built on the natural biomes

7.3 Soil structure and fertility result from dynamic processes


7.4 Industrial agriculture, which increased production, came with environmental impacts

7.5 Common farming, grazing, and forestry practices deplete soils

7.6 Deforestation and some forestry management practices deplete soils and increase flooding danger

7.7 Irrigation can damage soils

7.8 Intensive agriculture can cause pollution and promote pesticide resistance

7.9 Genetically modified crops are sources of controversy and agricultural potential


7.10 Investing in local farmers, while increasing genetic and crop diversity may be a sustainable approach to feeding our growing population

7.11 Sustainable farming, forestry, and ranching practices can reduce soil losses and improve soil fertility

7.12 Sustainable irrigation requires careful management of water and salts

7.13 Integrated approaches to pest control can reduce pesticide pollution and evolution of pesticide resistance

Chapter 8: Sustaining Aquatic Resources


8.1 Commercial fish populations are heavily harvested and actively managed

8.2 Nutrient availability influences primary production in marine environments

8.3 El Niño and other large-scale climatic systems affect fisheries


8.4 Tragedy of the commons: intensive harvesting has resulted in overexploitation of many commercially important marine populations

8.5 Dams and river regulation have decimated migratory fish populations

8.6 Aquaculture can pollute aquatic environments and threaten wild fish populations


8.7 Saving global fish stocks requires careful management and strong incentives

8.8 Biodiversity contributes to the productivity and stability of fisheries

8.9 River restoration may be a key to restoring decimated salmon populations

8.10 Aquaculture can provide high-quality protein with low environmental impact

Chapter 9: Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power


9.1 Fossil fuels provide energy in chemical form

9.2 Power plants and vehicles burn fossil fuels to generate electricity and movement

9.3 Nuclear energy is released by atomic fission and fusion


9.4 Global energy use grows as energy shortages loom

9.5 Fossil fuel extraction and use can harm the environment

9.6 Nuclear power development comes with environmental costs


9.7 New laws and technology are cleaning oil industry

9.8 Ecosystem restoration can mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction

9.9 Advances in nuclear power plant operation and design are aimed at improving safety

Chapter 10: Renewable Energy


10.1 Solar energy can be used as a heat source and to generate electricity

10.2 Wind, water, and geothermal energy add to the renewable energy portfolio

10.3 Biomass fuels represent stored chemical energy


10.4 Solar power remains costly and can damage the environment

10.5 Wind turbines and transmission lines kill birds and bats

10.6 Hydroelectric development can have multiple environmental and social impacts

10.7 Biofuel development can reduce food supplies and harm the environment


10.8 Smart solutions to issues associated with solar power are under development

10.9 Less damaging wind-generation strategies are under development

10.10 Downsizing can mitigate the impacts of hydroelectric development

10.11 Less damaging, more efficient biofuels are under development as alternatives to oil-based fuels

Chapter 11: Environmental Health, Risk, and Toxicology


11.1 Chemical hazards include toxic substances and pollutants.

11.2 Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are spread through the environment


11.3 Toxic substances move through in the environment and can accumulate in large concentrations

11.4 Exposure to endocrine disruptors can affect the health of humans and other organisms

11.5 Misuse and overuse have promoted resistance to antibiotics and insecticides

11.6 Evolution challenges efforts to control malaria


11.7 We assess risk both qualitatively and quantitatively

11.8 Risk management involves reducing environmental hazards and controlling disease

Chapter 12: Solid and Hazardous Waste Management


12.1 The "waste" generated by economic systems does not occur in ecosystems

12.2 Waste has diverse sources, properties, and varies with level of economic development


12.3 Municipal solid waste management is a growing problem

12.4 Hazardous waste generation is increasing and is often handled unsafely

12.5 Safe nuclear waste disposal requires long-term security

12.6 Improperly handled hazardous wastes have contaminated many areas


12.7 Modern municipal solid waste management emphasizes reduced disposal

12.8 Carefully managed sanitary landfills are essential to managing solid waste

12.9 Careful handling and disposal of hazardous waste can reduce contamination

12.10 Long-term storage systems for radioactive waste are under construction

Chapter 13: Pollution: Air, Water, and Soil


13.1 Sulfur: essential element and serious pollutant

13.2 The sources of pollution and properties of pollutants are diverse

13.3 Atmospheric and aquatic transport eventually move pollutants around the planet.


13.4 Organic matter and nutrient pollution can disrupt local and distant ecosystems

13.5 Acid rain is a major source of damage to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

13.6 Soil and sediment pollution damages ecosystems and threatens human health

13.7 Air pollution exacts major health-related and economic costs


13.8 Environmental legislation and international treaties have played important roles in reducing pollution in North America

13.9 There are many ways to reduce organic and nutrient pollution

13.10 Control measures have reduced emissions of pollutants and acid rain

13.11 Soils and sediments contaminated by hazardous wastes can be cleaned using a variety of techniques.

13.12 Reducing air pollution can bring substantial health and economic benefits

Chapter 14: Global Climate Change


14.1 The atmosphere exerts key controls on planetary temperatures

14.2 Scientists began building the basis for understanding the greenhouse effect more than 200 years ago

14.3 Global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations have varied cyclically

14.4 Atmospheric CO2 appears to be the thermostat controlling global temperatures


14.5 Precise measurements reveal that fossil fuel burning is the main cause of increased atmospheric CO2 levels

14.6 As CO2 levels have risen in modern times, global temperatures have increased significantly

14.7 Rising temperatures have been accompanied by diverse changes in the Earth system

14.8 Climate change can lead to a wide range of societal costs

14.9 Developing a road map to reduce carbon emissions

14.10 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions provides new economic opportunities

14.11 Restoring and enhancing carbon sinks could help balance the carbon budget