human environment

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Human-Environment Interaction Outline: Conceptual framework and terminology Human-Atmosphere Interactions Human-Lithosphere Interactions Human-Hydrosphere Interactions Policy Issues, Prospects, and Perspectives


Conceptual framework and terminology Cultural-Physical Landscape Interactions Terminology Environment Biosphere (Ecosphere) atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere


Human-Atmosphere Interactions Human-Atmosphere Interactions Control Factors for Climate Climatic regions and historical development patterns Biome desert, grassland, steppe, tropical rain forests, northern coniferous forests. Ecosystems


Human-Atmosphere Interactions Human-Atmosphere Interactions (cont.) Natural- vs. Human-induced climate changes Aerosols and the icebox effect Volcanoes / Smoke stacks Global Warming, Acid Rain, Ozone Depletion


Human-Atmosphere Interactions Global Warming -- “greenhouse” effect Industrial revolution Greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, chlorofluorocarbons. Greenhouse effect Secondary effects sea level rise, increasing aridity or dry areas, extremal weather patterns, crop yields and the distribution of agric. lands Counterarguments


Human-Atmosphere Interactions Acid Rain low altitude vs. high altitude pollutants volcanoes / smoke stacks (fuel consumption) sulfur dioxide/nitrous oxide sulfuric/nitric acid acid rain (precipitation) [pH<5.6] geographic extent effects statues/buildings, forests, water bodies and fish, crop yields.


Human-Atmosphere Interactions Ozone Depletion Upper vs. lower level atmospheric ozone Low: photochemical smogs / car pollution Upper: blocks UV radiation (DNA effects) CFC and chlorine/oxygen interaction Effects immune system, skin cancer, crop damage, forest damage, phytoplankton kills. Montreal Protocol


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Human-Lithosphere Interactions Critical roles of the lithosphere surface reflectivity/solar radiation water balance temperature and region- to global-scale climate methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon sink. Major human-induced changes tropical deforestation, desertification, soil erosion


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Tropical deforestation Total forest cover (30%); Tropical Forest (6%) Tropical forest processes oxygen/carbon balance surface/air temperature; moisture/reflectivity biodiversity regulates watersheds/ water flow


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Tropical deforestation (cont.) Human-induced changes and problems population pressure agriculture fuel and lumber burger and steaks Scale 45% degraded globally Africa (50%), Asia (50%), Central America (70%), South America (40%)


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Desertification Arid/semi-arid regions Process plants removed water/wind erosion pavement increased surface water runoff; declining sub-surface water. Causes Natural versus human overgrazing, deforestation, clearing for cultivation, burning. Scale (900 million people; 1.2 billion hectares) Africa (40%), Asia (33%), Latin America (20%)


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Desertification (cont.) Scale 900 million people; 1.2 billion hectares. Africa (40%), Asia (33%), Latin America (20%) Severe cases: Algeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, and Niger.


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Soil Erosion Top soil and lithosphere Soil composition and formation rock inorganic mineral, organic matter, organisms, air, and water decomposing rock and decaying organic matter tends to increase in depth over time. Human-induced erosion no agriculture. Mitigating factors rotation, fallowing, and terracing.


Human-Lithosphere Interactions Soil Erosion (cont.) Scale Global issue Severe cases: Guatemala, El Salvador, Turkey, Haiti, China. “A Worldwatch Institute report of the mid-1980s projected a 19% decline in cropland per person between that time and the end of the century. But, ominously, it also projected - at then current rates of soil loss and population growth - a 32% reduction in topsoil per person by the year 2000. Current evidence confirms those predictions, with profound implications for food production trends and for economic and political stability in the world.”


Human-Hydrosphere Interactions Human-Hydrosphere Interactions Critical roles of the hydrosphere hydrologic cycle renewable resource life sustaining agriculture and industry; constraint on development. Major human-induced changes regional supplies, silt loads, pollution, algae.


Human-Hydrosphere Interactions Water pollution wastewater treatment 90% of sewage untreated in developing countries India (70%), China (80% of rivers), Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Eastern Europe and Russia.


Solid, Hazardous, and Toxic Waste Solid Waste (municipal solid waste - MSW) history of solid waste 200 million tons per year/ 3.5 pounds per day proportional to population and per capita income. Landfills open versus sanitary 75% of U.S. waste; declining availability Fresh Kills, Staten Island


Solid, Hazardous, and Toxic Waste Incineration 20% of U.S. solid waste/ 125 incinerators waste-to-energy dioxin, acid gases, heavy metals. Japan, 75% of solid wastes 3x dioxin levels. Ocean Dumping history “sustainable yield” scale of problem


Solid, Hazardous, and Toxic Waste Toxic Wastes toxic - death or serious injury to humans or animals hazardous - immediate or long-term human health risk. 10% of industrial waste materials. ground water and air pollution. Radioactive Wastes Low-level (100 years) versus high-level (10,000-240,000 years) “spent fuel” disposal sites and problems.


Solid, Hazardous, and Toxic Waste Exporting Wastes New York (3,774,000 tons) PA, VA, OH, CT VT, MA (0.16 mil tons) Illinois (2,800,000 tons) IN, WI MO, IA, IN, WI (1.3 mil. tons) California (453,183 tons) NV, WA


Prospects Our perpetual dilemma lies in the reality that what we need and want in support and supply from the environments we occupy generally exceeds in form and degree what they are able to yield in an unaltered state. This final chapter detailing a few of the damaging pressures placed upon the environment by today’s economies and cultures is not meant as a litany of despair. Rather it is a reminder of the potentially destructive ecological dominance of humans.

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